09th Nov2014

‘Extraterrestrial’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Brittany Allen, Freddie Stroma, Melanie Papalia, Jesse Moss, Anja Savcic, Sean Rogerson, Emily Perkins, Mike Kovac, Fred Keating, Gil Bellows, Michael Ironside | Written and Directed by The Vicious Brothers

extraterrestrial-cast

The Vicious Brothers, writer/directors of the two popular Grave Encounters found-footage flicks, turn their hands to a more traditional narrative movie, mixing traditional filming methods with their penchant for POV shaky-cam, with Extraterrestrial.

Still reeling from her parents divorce, April (Brittany Allen) is dragged back to the vacation cabin she spent fond summers at as a child accompanied by a group of friends. Her trip down memory lane takes a dramatic and terrifying turn when a fireball descends from the sky and explodes in the nearby woods. Lead by her boyfriend (Freddie Stroma), the group venture out toward the crash site and discover the remnants of a ship from another planet along with footprints that suggest its alien occupants are still alive. The college friends soon find themselves caught in the middle of something bigger and more terrifying than they ever thought possible.

Some stunning visuals, the abduction of April’s friend somehow manages to be both beautiful and shocking at the same time; and whilst there are shades of the cliched “white light” real-life reports of alien abductions, what happens in Extraterrestrial is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Yes, there are echoes of the ever-popular abduction flick Fire in the Sky, but with a more horrific edge to it – and the film takes the concept of alien probes to a whole new gross and gory level, the types of which haven’t been seen since Jake West’s Evil Aliens!

Extraterrestrial also features a superb soundtrack – part 80s synth, part rock, part drum and bass, it hits all the right notes (pun intended) at the the right times, making it as key to the film as the on screen story. Speaking of which this Evil Dead meets E.T. tale is, at least for me, the best alien abduction movie I seen , Period. It mixes comedy and horror, fun and suspense in perfect amounts which means the audience will never bored and are kept on the edge of the seat at the same time. It’s rare that a film can hold your attention for its complete run time – but this movie does just that. However to go into any more details would really spoil a lot of the great moments in Extraterrestrial (including the fantastic ending)… All I will say is conspiracy theorists will get a kick out of just where the Vicious Brothers take their great alien abduction flick!

Of course it doesn’t hurt  that the film features a number of solid performances, from newcomers and veterans alike. Michael Ironside makes for a fantastic governmental conspiracist and weed farmer, and his tete-a-tete with one of the alien greys was a highlight of the movie for me. Gil Bellows also puts in a great performance as the local sheriff investigating a wealth of cattle mutilations and missing persons cases – but then I think Bellows could read the phone book and give a great performance – he’s very underrated and has been criminally underused in the movies since his star role on Ally McBeal back in the early 2000s. He even made Syfy channel movie Goblin well-worth watching! At the other end of the spectrum, the younger cast do the best they can with what they are given. The teens in this tale tended to err on the stereotypical side. Brittany Allen is merely OK as heroine April, managing to finally come into her own once the film kicks into high gear on board the alien’s UFO; although Freddie Stroma, as her boyfriend, is a one-dimensional sap.Thankfully Melanie Papalia, from the awesome Frightfest flick The Den, manages to take her friend/sidekick role and run with it – it’s a credit to her performance that her’s is one of the only deaths I gave two-cents about!

I’ll admit that, as someone who really didn’t like Grave Encounters and its sequel, I didn’t go into Extraterrestrial with high expectations but even I was surprised at just how effective and frightening this movie was. It’s clearly a step up (a massive step up) from The Vicious Brothers’ previous efforts. Here’s hoping they deliver the same brilliance on their next feature!

**** 4/5

Extraterrestrial is out now from Signature Entertainment.

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