ALIEN ABDUCTION is a great movie. While it does have a lot going against it, you need to trust me on this one.
Firstly, the name of the film is terrible. I tend to be more attracted to films with titles like ABSENTIA or THE LAST DAYS. Something that sets a tone for what you are about to watch, but does not give too much away. Just as I judge books by their covers, I too judge films by the titles.
Going past the title, ALIEN ABDUCTION is a found footage film. Found footage films have gotten a bad reputation, and rightly so. After the success of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT plenty of uninspired folks have realized that there can be big money in low budget film. Visual and audio quality can be cast aside, and practical effects can be avoided by having an inexperienced camera operator guiding the story.
With all of the missteps in the history of found footage films ALIEN ABDUCTION seems like a beacon of hope for the faulted genre. It is damn good, and a great example of why we should not abandon the genre entirely.
The film follows the Morris family on their vacation in North Carolina. During their first night camping, the three kids spot the famed Brown Mountain Lights in the sky. The next day on their drive they get lost in the woods, with the help of a malfunctioning GPS, and logically familial tensions rise. As the birds begin falling from the sky the in-fighting becomes trivial and they focus on survival and staying together as a family.
The whole story is filmed by the youngest son Riley. He has autism, and feels more comfortable seeing the outside world from behind the safer distance of a camera lens. Though slightly gimmicky, this explanation feels quite natural to the story. All of the family interactions with Riley and his camera reinforce his insistence on using it. Riley focuses the camera on small details from time to time, just as an autistic child would. It also then makes sense that Riley would hold tighter to his camera as the tensions mount. In lesser quality found footage films there seem to be little reason for the camera to keep rolling, but here the film presents a logical any sympathetic vehicle for the continued footage.
As the family tries to find safety in shelter they encounter a redneck character who has a questionable past and does not seem instantly trustworthy. The film does another good job here of allowing this relationship to mature quickly so that it can get back to the task at hand- aliens!
Mixing both off-screen in onscreen aliens, the abductions are initially mysterious and terrifying.As more of these creatures are revealed the terror of their mission builds and you are hanging on every step of Riley’s escape to see the final outcome. The film’s ending, and the beginning and middle for that matter, is smart.
To write-off ALIEN ABDUCTION simply because of its name or the fact that it is a found footage film is an injustice to both the filmmaker and to yourself. You deserve to see this.
Alien Abduction makes its Boston area premiere April 11th & 12th at the Somerville Theater. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased here.