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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Movie Review: Extraterrestrial (2014)

On paper, Extraterrestrial probably seemed like a great idea. A slasher film with aliens? I'd pay to see that! Throw in the brains behind the Grave Encounters series, some attractive leads, and Michael Ironside in a small role, and you've really sold me! What could possibly go wrong!?

Simple, they made the movie.

Extraterrestrial follows April (played by Brittany Allen) and her boyfriend, Kyle (played by Freddie Stroma) going to a cabin in the woods to take some pictures of it for April's father. They're accompanied by their friends: Seth, Melanie, and Lex. Being responsible adults, they go to the cabin to do as they're told to and don't at all party or act like they're in a slasher movie.

In between all of this, a sheriff investigates the disappearance of a young woman. This subplot does lead somewhere, but its ultimate payoff feels like it was left on the cutting room floor. That, or I blinked and missed something. Either way, this story feels like a way to make the whole “police savior” aspect to the story feel more fulfilling.

Now, as mentioned before, this film comes from The Vicious Brothers—with Colin Minihan directing it. I'm not terribly familiar with their work, only having seen Grave Encounters 2 because I'm a rebel and don't need no prior context. However, I can say that based on that film and this film, their style is definitely apparent and reminds me a lot of Eli Roth; the main characters being young, pretty, narcissistic, stupid, wasted, and having neon-lit targets hovering over their heads.

Now, I'll admit: I'm not fan of Roth's style, but the similarities here do work. I see a character, I eagerly await to see how they're going to get killed. However, two things seriously hinder that style and break the entire film.

The first is the CGI in this film is on par with something out of a PlayStation 3. For a film with a budget of $3 million, and having been released in 2014, that's astounding. Especially when production companies like Blumhouse exist. It's not all that bad though, some shots look like they're out of a PlayStation 4 game. I bet they used Unreal Engine 4 to make shots like this.

Square Enix's cinematics have nothing on this!

The second is the lighting, which is often on par with a found footage movie. Having come off the coattails of Grave Encounters, this doesn't surprise me. That said, there's no excuse for the movie to have moments in it where I feel like I'm playing Where's Waldo with an Anglerfish.

The film's camera work is also reminiscent of a found footage film, though it feels like they we're aiming for the same technique as Chernobyl Diaries, where it feels like the camera is a character in of itself. However, it never feels alive or mobile. Rather, it feels more akin to filming an earthquake. This aspect also feels like it should have offset the trash CGI, but thanks to the power of movie magic and UFO taillights, it made it more noticeable.

The acting is, for the most part, passable. Michael Ironside steals the show, though he's not in it for that long. It's a shame really, because being stuck with the main cast made me want to rip my ears off. I only mention this as it's the only part of the movie that didn't suck and I figure this review could use a bit of positivity before I return to ripping this apart like I myself am an alien, and the film is my latest abductee.

The entire reason to watch Extraterrestrial—the “slasher” aspect to it—is woefully underwhelming. Even ignoring the two major grievances I found myself feeling very disappointed with every death. The potentially creative and interesting ways to off someone with aliens is largely cast aside in favor of either having characters vanish after being abducted or being killed by other humans. This makes the Eli Roth-style writing feel all the more unbearable, a fact that left me frustrated to no end. I'll give it credit though, someone does get killed via anal probe. It was actually rather funny and, amazingly, feels forced in like a suppository.

The pacing to Extraterrestrial is extremely wonky and it's largely thanks to the film's unreasonable length. Clocking in an hour and forty-one minutes, the movie could do without about fifteen minutes of filler. While I don't mind build up, there comes a point where letting the camera sit (or rather wobble like it's being held by a drunk) on a character slowly walking goes from being “tense” to “time to check my phone to see if anyone's texted me”.

Between it's garbage camera work, horrible CGI, lackluster killings, and pacing that's slower than a snail traveling to the event horizon of Sagittarius A*, Extraterrestrial manages to take its potential and squander every ounce of it. Such a fear is worthy of an award that makes a Razzie look like an Oscar.

I went into this movie hopeful. It sounded like it could be an entertaining way to kill time. I also love alien flicks. They're enjoyable and creepy. Yet, somehow, this one does everything wrong. I guess if this film did anything right, it's that it's challenged The Fourth Kind for the title of “Worst Alien Film”. Good job.

Final Score: 0/5

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