Monday, September 1, 2014

Horror Film Review

Alien Abduction (2014):  Found-footage fare featuring foul freaks from far, far away.  See?  I can do alliteration, too.  Seriously, though, this movie was surprise in that I've come to loathe found-footage, sci-fi horror because found-footage, sci-fi horror invariably sucks and yet this one did not.  Suck, that is.  In fact, overlooking the overly ordinary title, Alien Abduction might just be the best I've seen to date.

Peter and Katie Morris (Peter Holden and Katherine Sigismund) decided to load their three kids into the SUV and trek to North Carolina's Brown Mountains for a few fun-filled days of camping.  High-schoolers Corey and Jillian (Corey Eid and Jillian Clare) along with their 11 year-old, autistic brother Riley (Riley Polanski) aren't exactly jumping up and down with glee but neither are they pouty jerks about it.  Riley has the video camera.  It's a coping mechanism (this is code for plot device).  Anyway, on their first night, the kids witness three UFOs zipping about the sky.  Since the area is famous for this kind of thing, no one gets too worked up over it.  While searching for their next campsite, the GPS fails and they become hopelessly lost (no cell phone service, naturally).  Eventually, they stumble upon a tunnel with a dozen or so recently abandoned vehicles strewn around.  Dad, Corey, and Riley enter on foot to investigate.  I'll interject here to say the sense of foreboding in this scene was practically palpable.  A figure appears at the far end of the tunnel, spectacularly backlit, and dad hails him.  Mistake is an understatement.  Aliens pop out of the woodwork and give chase.  Papa Morris sacrifices himself to give his kids a chance to escape.  As Corey grabs Riley and runs like hell, they hear their father scream in a most blood-curdling manner.

Mom and the kids find a backwoods cabin owned by Sean (Jeff Bowser), who also owns many guns, a banjo, and a shortwave radio.  Riley's footage convinces him they're not nuts.  A frantic call from his brother on the shortwave doesn't hurt either.  Sean takes off, the aliens come, and then it's Corey's turn to do the sacrifice routine.  After much running and hiding, the remaining three end up in a barn where Sean finds them.  Alas, rescue is not in the cards as Sean and mom are subjected to a decidedly unhealthy beam up.  So now it's Jillian and Riley on the run.  Thankfully, they discover the highway and then a passing cop.  They're saved!  Oh, wait...

The Brown Mountain Lights are a real thing.  Really.  Look it up.  Interesting stuff.  OK...back to the review.  The way this was filmed, we're supposed to believe there was a mass abduction in the Brown Mountains a few years ago and the United States Air Force covered it up.  Riley's video was "leaked."  Weirder things have happened, I suppose.  I'm babbling because I'm desperately trying to think of what I didn't like about this movie but am drawing a blank.  Ah, now I remember.  When the family first encountered the abandoned vehicles at the tunnel, they couldn't turn around because their SUV was running on fumes.  Why not siphon off a few gallons from that Yukon over there and haul ass?  The writers could have at least had one of the kids mention it in passing.  One other alien jettisons Riley's video camera from the upper atmosphere or perhaps low earth orbit and it survives not only the descent but the landing.  Right.  I didn't buy it in Unidentified and I don't buy it here either.  Might be time to give Mythbusters a call.

The Skinny

Acting:  They're all pros so no complaints, although Bowser's hillbilly schtick wears thin fast.
Story:  I did like the use of a real phenomenon as a basis for the plot.  Makes suspending your disbelief just a skosh easier.
Direction:  Snappy.
Production Values:  No budget information, but they did film it in North Carolina so the exteriors are pretty groovy.  If this had really been shot on the Riley's camera, I'd be complaining about lighting and sound and such.
Gore/FX:  No blood to speak of but there is some cringe-inducing sounds during the beaming up process.  (All I can say is that whatever space the aliens needed to fit the abductee into must be quite small.)  The CGI is impressive.
Scares:  There is one that sneaked up and got me good.
Ending:  Not as depressing as you'd think.  There's a bit more movie after the credits that allows one to hope.  Nice.
Verdict:  Should you see Alien Abduction?  You bet.  Other than a disappointing lack of gore, it's got everything you want in a sci-fi horror flick.

Rating:  4 out of 5

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