Synopsis: The gripping film follows April (Brittany Allen, “All My Children”), who is still reeling from her parents’ divorce when she’s 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, Harry Potter films, Pitch Perfect), the group ventures out toward the crash site and discovers 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 anything they could ever imagine.
Release Date: October 17, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Thriller
The Vicious Brothers, otherwise known as Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz in the horror world, burst onto the scene with their found-footage movie Grave Encounters and its subsequent sequel. Not wanting to make ghost movies forever, the filmmakers have switched gears to aliens with their newest film, Extraterrestrial.
Extraterrestrial is about a girl named April (Brittany Allen from “All My Children”) who has to travel to a small rural town in order to take pictures of a cabin that her mother wants to sell. She invites along her boyfriend, Kyle (Freddie Stroma from Pitch Perfect), hoping for a romantic getaway, but Kyle invites his friends Seth (Jesse Moss from Tucker and Dale vs. Evil), Melanie (The Den‘s Melanie Papalia), and Lex (Anja Savcic from I Love You, Beth Cooper), so the tryst becomes a party. While in the woods, the gang is visited by aliens. Fearing for their lives, they kill one of them. Only then do they learn that the aliens have been peacefully studying humans for years, and the kids’ killing of one of the visitors has been interpreted as an act of war. With the help of the town sheriff (House at the End of the Street‘s Gil Bellows) and an old-time resident (Michael Ironside from Scanners), April and her friends have to figure out a way to end the invasion that they unintentionally started.
Written by both of The Vicious Brothers, but directed solely by Minihan, Extraterrestrial is a tense, well-crafted throwback to the fun sci-fi movies of the eighties. It’s like a trip through other modern retro-movies that pay respect to the classics; it starts off like The Cabin in the Woods, yet takes a turn towards You’re Next by way of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. That may sound like a weird blend, but it all makes sense in the sci-fi/horror alien invasion world of Extraterrestrial. It’s a fun film that has a little of everything b-movie fans remember loving about the movies.
The only real problem with Extraterrestrial is the aliens; they look like the same aliens that have been onscreen for the last fifty years – the same skinny body, big head, and dark eyes. Part of that adds to the eighties feel of the movie, but a little variation on the theme might give the film more of its own identity. The film also relies heavily on the rest of the standard alien stereotypes – the flying saucer, the lasers, the anal probes. These archetypes are probably meant to be tributes, but they wind up seeming a little lazy. Extraterrestrial is by no means a bad movie because of it, it just looks like a movie that has been seen before. But then again, with the film’s classic sci-fi vibe, maybe that’s the whole point.
There are some really cool audio effects put together in Extraterrestrial. The sound design was done by Miguel Nunes (“R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour”), and he earns his paycheck on this one. The aliens’ presence is announced with a deafening roar, the soundtrack being saturated with manic collages of cacophony and noise. Then, just as quickly as it comes, it stops, leaving an eerie silence that is sometimes accompanied by a slight ringing, something that the characters themselves would experience in their ears after being exposed to the barrage of sound. It’s a nice subtle touch after the not-so-subtle noisescape. The visuals themselves are interesting, but thanks to Nunes’ sound design work, Extraterrestrial is bone-rattling.
Extraterrestrial isn’t the type of film that is going to give anyone nightmares, but it definitely has its scary moments. It has its share of jump scares, some of them cheap, but all are effective. There’s plenty of creepy imagery in the film as well, with the aliens never being far from their prey. Extraterrestrial also features scenes of maddening suspense, especially in the sequences leading up to the actual abductions – there’s some real terror there. The most unsettling thing about Extraterrestrial (or any alien abduction movie, for that matter) is the idea of being completely helpless as the aliens do whatever they want to their abductees. The helpless victim theme is more disturbing than any jump scare, and Extraterrestrial plays to that particular fear very well.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Colin Minihan
- Screenwriter(s): Colin MinihanStuart Ortiz
- Cast: Brittany Allen (April)Freddie Stroma (Kyle)Melanie Papalia (Melanie) Jesse Moss (Seth)Anja Savcic (Lex)Sean Rogerson (Deputy Mitchell)
- Cinematographer: Samy Inayeh
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA