Synopsis: A vacationing family encounters an alien threat in this pulse-pounding thriller based on the real-life Brown Mountain Lights phenomenon in North Carolina. Official Website: www.alienabductionfilm.com.
Release Date: April 4, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
The brown mountain lights are a phenomenon known to those residing in North Carolina. They have been occurring for years, and with their appearance comes disappearances of residents and visitors to the area. Alien Abduction is one family’s story told over the course of three days when they encountered the brown mountain lights. But they are not here to tell the story themselves, oh no. Their story is known because their son’s camera was found in a field after the events transpired. Alien Abduction is a found footage film, but that should not stop you from checking out this independent diamond in the rough.
The Morris family is taking a few days off to go camping as a family. Their destination of choice, the Brown Mountains of North Carolina. Their son Riley (Riley Polanski) is autistic, and finds comfort in videotaping the daily activities of the family. They set up their tents, go for a quick hike, and joke about how long it will take the daughter in the group, Jillian (Jillian Claire), to realize she will not be able to blow dry her hair. They are a seemingly normal family, but all of that is about to change. During their first night camping they witness lights in the sky that at first appear to be stars and just as quickly dart away in an L-like pattern. It may be the middle of the night when this happens but Riley, Jillian, and their older brother Corey (Corey Eld) are awakened by a disruption and luckily catch a glimpse of the phenomenon. It does not change their plans for the next day, as they set out to yet another campsite, but the fact that they are not very familiar with the area proves tragic for each and every one of them.
One wrong turn down the wrong road finds the family discovering a group of abandoned cars; their doors wide open, child car seats strung out on the road, and numerous articles out of place. Something is amiss in the Brown Mountains, and the tunnel ahead is where the horror of Alien Abduction begins. You see, this is an alien invasion movie. It is not a, ‘did they get taken by aliens?’ movie. They did, and what you see in Alien Abduction is the twisted manner in which each one of them lost their hand with fate. The family’s story is told piece by piece, abduction by abduction, and it has its moments of surprise, terror, horror, and the must-have hillbilly who yields his shotgun like a pro out to kill anything that trespasses on his property. A shotgun is no match for an alien, a point clearly made in Alien Abduction.
The film is creative in its grand undertaking, never submitting to too many horror movie tropes or alien stereotypes. The found footage technique is nearly forgotten for most of the movie, except when it is used perfectly in times of severe distress. A scene where Jillian, Riley, and their mother are peering through floorboards in the dark while lights and an alien creep above them is incredibly well-done. Especially with the added tension of the elder brother being in the room. But the greatest success of the film occurs at the end, while explaining what was seen in the beginning pre-interview’s. A disorienting sense takes hold as the image is hard to make out, and then the moment comes when your mind realizes exactly what you are seeing. It provokes terror, with the mere idea of such an event being real. What it does for Alien Abduction is take a good horror movie about aliens and turn it into a very clever creation.
As a found footage film, Alien Abduction was bound to have some bumpy footage, out of focus framing, and moments where you do not exactly know what you are seeing. The positive side to yet another found footage film being made is that this one actually nails the cinematography so that it is believable–having been shot by a young boy–and at the same time it looks polished. The disorienting nature of found footage is not found in Alien Abduction. The majority of the film is stable. The frame is constant, in focus, and does not exhibit an amateur feel. Alien Abduction may be a found footage film but you just may forget that truth while watching.
A great deal of the perfectionism in camera usage can be attributed to having the “cameraman” be autistic. The young boy, Riley, uses the camera to view the world as it helps him manage his autism. The introduction to him being behind the camera is made with a quick mirror shot displaying him holding the camera at the beginning of the film. There will only be one other time in the film that Riley is shown, and it is again as a reflection. A direct nod to the duality of his character being inside of the story but constantly outside as the camera works as his eyes, therefore Riley never actually sees anything organically. The camera distorts, manipulates, and consistently blocks action–as any good horror movie makes use of, as Alien Abduction does.
Using the autistic child device could be seen as an exploitative measure; enabling a disability that is known for causing obsessive compulsiveness to bring about an excuse for a found footage film to appear more refined so audiences take to the picture better. That argument would be valid if the filmmakers did not make additional choices in regards to the character and the camera being an extension of self. Multiple times during the movie, Riley focuses the camera on the world around him and not solely on the actions of his family. Butterflies and moths are featured, the camera as Riley’s eye, focusing in on the actions of the creatures. The same can be said for characters. While Riley’s family is center-stage in the narrative, they are not always the focus of Riley’s camera. Riley uses the camera to introspectively watch people, develop a sense of who they are, without having to actually stare at someone or watch them. Notably, it is the character of Sean with whom Riley becomes fascinated. His fascination does not go unnoticed as Sean specifically warns Riley that he should stop videotaping him. Riley does not, nor does he turn off the camera when told to by anyone else. Yet another nice touch shows Riley plugging in his camera midway through the film. Any question of how the battery lasted for so long is explained; the same cannot be said for the creative editing as time does not run linear throughout the film. A minor gripe that can easily be overlooked. Alien Abduction is Riley’s story, as seen through his lens, and the filmmakers made a wise choice in making Riley more than a documentarian. He is an exogenous narrator.
The scares that exist in Alien Abduction belong to two groups. The first, the jump scare, happens often enough. The second, the psychological scare, where fear takes hold over what goes bump in the night or may be lurking outside of a flashlights gaze, is the more effective of the two. Alien’s are in and of themselves scary for the viewer because of the unknown outcomes that come along with them visiting. While Alien Abduction is not going to give a viewer nightmares, it will undoubtedly provoke fear. The jump scares are more than plentiful to make it fun while watching, and the ending is sure to make one squirm in their seat and have a very uncomfortable feeling crawl up their spine. Nothing is scarier than the unknown, unless you get a glimpse inside of what you never thought you would witness. Enter Alien Abduction; a movie with an ending that is chilling because of the fact that you are peering through the lens of a child.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Matty Beckerman
- Screenwriter(s): Robert Lewis
- Cast: Katherine Sigismund (Katie Morris)Corey Eld (Corey Morris)Riley Polanski (Riley Morris) Jillian Clare (Jillian Morris)Jeff Bowser (Sean)Peter Holden (Peter Morris)
- Editor(s): Steve Mirkovich
- Cinematographer: Luke Geissbuhler
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Ben Weinman
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA