Sunday, October 18, 2015

Alien Abduction (2014)(Spoiler Review)

This review contains spoilers.

The Story- During a camping trip to Brown Mountain, North Carolina, an eleven-year-old boy named Riley Morris (Riley Polanski) decides to bring a video camera. Diagnosed with autism, Riley joins his father, Peter (Peter Holden), his mother, Katie (Katherine Sigismund), his older brother, Corey (Corey Eid), and his teenage sister, Jillian (Jillian Clare). Riley uses his video camera to record the family’s trip, but The Morris Family runs into a series of bizarre problems.

One night, Riley, Corey, and Jillian witness erratic movements from three flashing objects in the sky, but the mysterious objects disappear before the trio has a real chance to investigate or alert their parents. As the trip takes a turn for the worse, a frustrated Peter reaches a boiling point, and to make matters worse, the car is running low on gas. Lost, confused, and running low on patience, the family searches for a road to the highway, but they run into an unpleasant surprise, when they find a clustered mess of abandoned cars blocking the entrance to a tunnel.

Peter, Corey, and Riley cautiously explore the dark tunnel littered with abandoned cars, including a police car, and Peter calls for help, when he spots a shadowy figure in the distance. But Peter, Riley, and Corey are forced to retreat, when Peter realizes the shadowy figure is actually an alien. Peter urges Riley and Corey to return to the car, as more aliens surround the group. Riley and Corey escape, but Peter is abducted by the aliens.

With a limited number of options in front of them, the remaining members of The Morris Family join forces with Sean (Jeff Bowser), a reclusive local, who lives in the Brown Mountain community. A reluctant Sean allows Riley, Corey, Jillian, and Katie to take refuge in his isolated cabin, and Sean explains the mysteries and rumors behind the Brown Mountain Lights and rumored alien abductions in the area. Eventually, the aliens return to wreak havoc, and with their backs against the wall, the group clings to slim hopes of an escape, as Sean fights side by side with the family to survive another attack from the aliens.

Review- Alien Abduction adds a touch of realism with documentary style interviews from residents, paranormal experts, and eye witnesses. On top of that, the movie starts off Riley’s recorded footage, and they make sure to remind us this footage is recovered  by the US Air Force. It’s always nice to see the extra effort to maintain suspension of disbelief for found-footage, so it’s easier to buy into real people running into an incomprehensible dilemma. More often than not, you’ll just see the routine found-footage formula about a random cameraman or woman inexplicably recording a series of close calls, deaths, chases, and at the same time, they’re screaming and turning the camera on themselves, so they can explain what’s happening to complete strangers, who might or might not see the recorded footage.

So what happens to The Morris Family? Well, in Sean’s cabin the aliens eventually corner Corey, Riley, Jillian, and Katie (Sean leaves to rescue his brother after hearing a desperate plea for help on a radio message). Feeling remorse, grief, and regret after Peter’s abduction (Corey believes he could’ve and should’ve done more to save his father), Corey decides to stay behind and fight (with a rifle) the aliens by himself, while Riley, Katie, and Jillian hide underground in a cellar, and of course the aliens abduct Corey during his ill-fated last stand.

Sean eventually returns, and the group decides to leave his cabin, so they can flee to a nearby town for safety. But during the short road trip, the aliens show up again. The remaining members of The Morris Family run to a barn, but Sean willingly stays behind to fight the aliens.

In the barn, Sean returns (again) after escaping another attack, but the aliens corner the survivors. The aliens abduct and kill Katie and Sean, leaving Jillian and Riley alone. For a brief period of time, Riley loses Jillian in the woods, but Jillian finds her brother, and the two successfully evade the aliens until sunrise.

In the morning, Jillian and Riley share a moment of relief, when a police officer shows up to help. But Riley and Jillian’s luck runs out, when the aliens return to abduct them and the policeman. The final moments of the movie show Riley (holding on to the video camera) rapidly ascending into the sky, and you’ll see a few brief shots from inside the alien’s spaceship, and you can clearly hear screams from victims, who are presumably suffering a painful dissection or examination.

To add to this, the movie ends with men in hazmat suits taking Riley’s camera, and the credits start to roll. But it’s not over yet, because a mid-credits scene pops up. In the mid-credits scene, a policeman finds Peter alone and naked on the streets one year after the events in the movie. They never reveal the identity (or identities) of the other survivor or survivors, but it’s heavily implied Peter is NOT the only survivor from the recent string of alien abductions.  

Well, I can’t sit here and say it was 100% easy to telegraph Corey sacrificing himself to save the family in Sean’s cabin, but at the same time, Corey’s sacrifice is not a genuine surprise or a true shocking moment. In his own mind, Corey couldn’t escape the guilt for not doing enough to prevent Peter’s abduction. Corey clearly placed all the blame on his shoulders, so he had to kill two birds with one stone (i.e. giving his family a chance to escape, and taking a second chance to stand and fight the aliens without running away).

Yes, Alien Abduction deserves some bonus points for going the extra mile to convince the audience they’re watching real archived and top secret footage complete with one on one interviews. The jump scares feel forced, but it‘s not a major problem, so I can‘t complain too much. But one of the bigger problems in Alien Abduction is, the movie sticks to a repetitive formula, when the aliens appear. The aliens show up, the survivors run and hide, and it’s only a matter of time before they’re cornered, and someone is abducted and/or abducted and murdered. The rinse and repeat strategy really crossed a tedious line for me, and towards the end, it’s not that hard to predict what’s going to happen next, when the aliens corner the protagonists.

Still, I’ll go with a passing score for Alien Abduction. Alien Abduction is not good enough to stand out amongst the crowded found-footage pack, the movie features a good amount of shaky cam abuse, and yes, you’ll see more than enough familiar tropes here. But the main cast delivers a nice set of solid performances, and to add to that, they’re likable characters, who are willing to risk everything to save and protect each other. Is anyone familiar with the typical cowardly “To hell with the rest of you! I’m going to do anything I can to save my own a**!” character in horror films? You know, that one person (or persons), who won’t hesitate to sabotage, abandon, or manipulate the rest of the group to escape and save themselves? Well, you won’t see that in Alien Abduction, because bravery is a reoccurring theme here. Also, kudos to director Matty Beckerman for some genuinely eerie and creepy (the scattered pile of dead crows on the desolate mountain roads and the dark tunnel full of abandoned cars) visuals, and the grisly sight of Katie’s body literally bending backwards and snapping during her abduction/death is more than enough to pull a reaction out of you.

When it’s all said and done, Alien Abduction is nothing to brag about. Still, if you’re a fan of aliens and sci-fi/horror, it’s not the worst film to take a chance on. Alien Abduction falls into a few slumps every now and then, but on a positive note, the brief 1hr. & 25 min. runtime is barely noticeable.

Rating- 5/10



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