Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Alien Abduction - First Person Fire in the Sky

Alien Abduction
Directed by Matty Beckerman
Written by Robert Lewis

Starring Katherine Sigismund, Corey Eid & Riley Polanski

Not Rated - Approx 85 Minutes
Exclusive Media

Tag Lines
 - Fear The Lights

Alternate Titles
The Morris Family Abduction

"Everybody up here knows there's something weird going on."

First off, I've gotta get this off my chest:  I'm tired of people automatically dismissing a movie because it's found footage and continually bashing the format.  Found Footage films are here to stay, deal with it.  If you don't like it, that's fine.  If everyone liked the same things it would be an awfully boring world.  But for the love of God and all that's holy PLEASE stop judging films based simply on the fact that they're found footage.  Stop making automatic comparison's to Blair Witch and stop calling it lazy filmmaking.

Meet The Morrisons!  

I would have packed up my shit right then and there and left....

Okay, now that I've gotten THAT out of my system......let's talk Alien Abduction.  This is (if you haven't already figured it out) a found footage film that chronicles that last days of The Morris family.  The family of five (Father, Peter...Mother, Katie and siblings Corey, Jillian and Riley) are on a camping trip in the Brown Mountains of North Carolina.  On the first night, the kids spot a series of bright lights in the sky that are behaving quite oddly before shooting off into the night sky.

The next day things start to go wrong for the family.  Their SUV is mysteriously low on gas, the GPS is malfunctioning and tensions are starting to run a bit high.  When the family comes to a tunnel that is blocked by abandoned vehicles, you KNOW shits about to go sideways.  Dad and the boys trek into the tunnel to see what could possibly be causing the problem.  What they find is goddamned creepy.  Dozens of cars are abandoned.  Some have their hazards on, some don't, but they are ALL disheveled.  Clothes are strewn about, babyseats seemingly ripped from cars and laying on the ground, cell phones and other objects just apparently abandoned.  Getting towards the other side of the tunnel, Peter see's what he believes to be a person standing at the tunnel's mouth.  It's not human.  Personally, right then and there I would have lost my mind....because...well, you guys know how I feel about aliens.

There are aliens in the tunnel!

I just pooped myself a bit

From there on out, it's a fairly constant extraterrestrial assault on the family as they scramble for safety.   Unfortunately for them, the car doesn't have much gas left in it and after a highly disturbing shower of dead birds, the car completely runs dry and they're now on the run....literally....on foot.  They manage to find shelter when they come across a cabin belonging to a hillbilly named Sean.  At first he seems like your typical mountain dwelling type....not very fond of city slicker tourists who come up to his mountain, but he quickly becomes more of a protector and dare I even say hero as the film progresses.

That can't be good.

Meet Sean.

The aliens themselves are only ever briefly glimpsed, which makes their appearances all the more jarring when they do appear.  Their presence is heralded by blinding white light that seemingly infiltrates every crack, nook and cranny of whatever structure you happen to be in.  The light is accompanied by an unsettling metallic/ electronic noise that I can only describe as uncomfortable sounding.

Pretty much my worst fear encapsulated in a single screencap.

The film is based on the real life phenomena known as the Brown Mountain Lights, which have been sighted in the Brown Mountain region of North Carolina since the early 1900's.  They can still be seen to this day and there is still no explanation as to what the source of the lights could possibly be.  They've been the subject of several songs, books, movies and paranormal television shows.  There was even an episode of The X Files that revolved around the lights in 1999.  

No blood in this one.

No skin in this one either

Aliens.  Goddamned aliens, man.  Freaky bug eyed bastards with their long spindly fingers.......

That town looks a looooooooong way off.

Final Thoughts
It's no secret that those grey skinned freaky bastards from beyond the moon scare the crap out of me, but I try not to let that get in the way of my objectively viewing the film.  Even if they had used a different monster in the film, it still would have been effective.  Set pieces such as the car tunnel and the road covered in dead birds were highly effective.

It still amazes me that in this day and age of YouTube and Vines that people are so against found footage films.  The argument that "No one would continue to film as all this scary stuff happens" is invalid.  YouTube and other online video sights prove that.  Do you know how many videos you can find online of REAL people being killed in accidents and even murdered while someone stands by and numbly films it?  How many websites are dedicated to pictures of videos of gruesome accidents, injuries and death?

If you were in an unbelievable situation and had a camera with you (as most people do on at least their phones now) wouldn't YOU want to document what was happening?  Should you manage to get out of it alive, you'll want proof of your unbelievable story.  If you die, you'll want people to know what happened to you.  Unlikely that you would be filming when bad shit happens?  In this day and age, I think it would be unlikely that you WOULDN'T be.  Think about it.

Final Rating


  1. I don't automatically have a problem with found footage movies if that mode of story-telling is appropriate to the story at hand. The Blair Witch Project, V.H.S 1 and 2, the [REC] franchise, The Bay, and Europa Report all make effective use of the conceit. Found footage lends a verisimilitude that's often wildly effective when utilized properly. In addition to the subject matter matching the mode of storytelling, filmmakers have to commit wholly to the conceit if they use it. There are rules. Found footage doesn't have a score, it isn't perfectly edited, the composition of its shots is rarely "artistic", it doesn't use traditional movie tropes for character building - in sum, it must assiduously avoid anything that makes it look too professional, or the conceit doesn't work

    Found footage seems ideally suited to a tale of alien abduction (and a Bigfoot tale, for that matter - I still need to see Willow Creek), but it often feels forced, convenient, or trendy. For example, the conceit sometimes worked spectacularly well in The Sacrament - it was appropriate to the subject matter and lent a much needed air of intensity Father's monologs - but Ti West was inconsistent in his execution. It undermined the effectiveness of the whole. If I'm buying the veracity of what I'm watching and a shot suddenly seems too choreographed or suddenly has a score backing it, it pulls me out of that effective moment because the filmmaker has reminded me of the artifice. The parts of The Sacrament that were good were really good, but the inconsistency in the technique kept breaking the spell for me.

    The found footage movies - like the slasher movies before them - litter the landscape primarily because they're cheaper and easier to produce. Sadly - also like the slasher movies before them - the glut of inferior product made for those reasons overwhelms the sub-genre as a whole. There are definitely enough wildly effective found footage movies to make the sub-genre worthwhile overall, but too many filmmakers using the conceit for the wrong reasons unfortunately do more to shape the perception of the sub-genre than the relatively fewer good ones.

    As always with horror, we just have to persevere and dig our way through the shitty ones to find the good ones. I gather from your review that Alien Abduction is one of the good ones - and it's on Netflix! - so I'll definitely check it out.

  2. I agree 100% with everything you said. I wrote that article coming off an argument that I had with someone about found footage films. It's quite frustrating when folks won't give a film a chance simply because of it's shooting style. Even worse when they make public claims that a film is garbage based solely on that premise and not even having seen the film!

    I haven't seen The Sacrament yet, though I've been told by quite a few people that it's quite intense. For the most part I've enjoyed Ti West's work, so I will definitely give it a shot.

    You've absolutely hit the nail on the head. Found Footage is no different than slasher, zombie, possession or any other kind of trendy genre film. There are always going to be diamonds in the rough, but you're also going to have to wade through a lot of lesser films to get to them. Truth be told......I enjoy even the lesser films for the most part. Definitely check out Alien Abduction though. I think it's a fun creepy ride.