Director: Matty Beckerman
Cast: Katherine Sigismund, Corey Eid, Riley Polanski, Jillian Clare, Jeff Bowser, Peter Holden
RunTime: 1 hr 25 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Intense and Frightening Sequences)
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Official Website: http://www.alienabductionfilm.com
Opening Day: 1 May 2014
Synopsis: A terrifying sci-fi story inspired by dramatic found footage, ALIEN ABDUCTION preys on our fear of the unknown as we follow an average American family who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. While driving to a campsite in the Brown Mountains of North Carolina, the Morris family’s GPS malfunctions and they are lead to a remote tunnel surrounded by abandoned vehicles. The father, Peter Morris, is abducted leaving his traumatized wife and children to flee and seek refuge in a nearby cabin. There they are horrified to learn that strange lights in the nearby mountains have been linked to alien abduction and human sacrifice for centuries. When their attempts to alert the authorities are intercepted by the deadly extraterrestrial threat, the surviving members of the family find themselves under siege. A brutal and bloody attack unfolds as we witness the horrors through the lens of the youngest child’s video camera.
The latest in a seemingly never-ending stream of found-footage horror films arrives in the form of Matty Beckerman’s debut feature ‘Alien Abduction’, inspired by the actual phenomenon of mysterious lights appearing in the skies above North Carolina’s Brown Mountain for hundreds of years. Beginning with a prologue whose preceding message “The following is actual footage leaked from the U.S. Air Force” inevitably gives the impression that it is trying too hard to be taken seriously, Beckerman rewinds the clock to tell the story of a family that decides to go camping up in the mountains and finds themselves caught up in some extra-terrestrial activity.
The Morris family in question include parents Peter and Katie (Peter Holden, Katie Sigismund), teenagers Jillian and Corey (Jillian Clare, Corey Eid), and the youngest Riley (Riley Polanski), the last of whom is also tasked with being the one holding the camera as a purported means of coping with his autism. It isn’t the most convincing explanation for the found footage, but at least Beckerman and his screenwriter Robert Alvin Lewis attempt a plausible one that doesn’t strain the limits of credibility. And oh, because it’s set in the 1990s, the footage you see is in fact shot on a camcorder, so pardon the grainy resolution of the picture.
Once you get used to the perspective from which you’ll be seeing the rest of the events, you’ll find that everything else unfolds in a pretty perfunctory manner. First, there are the strange fast-moving lights in the sky. Then the GPS screws up and they find themselves driving into a tunnel filled with abandoned cars and emergency vehicles. Then Daddy is taken by the aliens. Then hundreds of dead crows start falling from the sky. In between all that are countless filler scenes of running and hiding, which in all honesty is probably what you’ll see most in any found footage movie.
At the very least, we can guarantee that you’ll won’t be seeing as much of them aliens as you hope to. In line with the low-budget nature of such productions, a lot of what happens relies on the power of suggestion, aided by cinematographer Luke Geissbuhler’s use of the familiar shaky and distorted video style commonplace to the subgenre. You’ll also have to contend with the sight of bodies being sucked upwards into a column of light, which is employed ad nauseam to imply the titular occurrence.
Perhaps the most interesting element in the movie is the gun-toting Sean (Jeff Bowser) who becomes an unexpected ally to the remaining members of the family. Sean’s brother has also gone missing, which is one reason why the grumpy redneck who lives in his own cabin in the woods reluctantly agrees to protect the Morrises when they turn up unannounced calling for help. In contrast, Jillian and Corey are bland to a fault, offering little rationale why we should be sympathetic to their predicament.
The same could be said of the movie as a whole, whose unimaginative screenplay, stock characters and uninspired direction make for a dully mediocre outing. It may not cost a lot to make a found footage movie, but as the ‘Paranormal Activity’ franchise should have taught, the onus is ultimately on the filmmaker to make the best out of the format. Otherwise, what you get is something so run-of-mill as ‘Alien Abduction’, which will be forgotten as quickly as the next found footage movie comes along.
(Bland and unimaginative, this rote exercise in the found footage genre won’t win any fans to the oft-exploited format)
Review by Gabriel Chong