FEARNET Movie Review: 'Alien Abduction'


Alien AbductionNot a huge confession here: the "horror / sci-fi" combo is my favorite type of movie. From the top of the heap (aka Alien) to the lowest rung on the ladder (pick one of the Resident Evil sequels), if it combines those two most fantastical of genres into one story, that's a film I want to see. Another obvious confession: in recent years I've grown rather fond of the "found footage" style of horror filmmaking.

So obviously a new indie film that tosses horror, science fiction, and found footage into a blender is bound to keep me entertained for 71 minutes, right? Wrong. The blandly titled (and plainly inaccurate) Alien Abduction is virtually worthless. "Virtually," because this tiresome piece of DIY nonsense could probably work as an academic tool; you could call the lecture "How not to make a found footage film."

Alien Abduction is about a very bland family that goes on a camping vacation and (eventually) runs afoul of what seems to be some sort of alien malfeasance. First Dad goes missing, and then a bunch of birds fall from the sky, and then mom and her annoying kids wander into a cabin owned by what seems to be the live-action version of Cletus (the slack-jawed yokel) from The Simpsons. Whenever the movie gets dull, which is often, writer/director Matty Beckerman resorts to loud squeals and chintzy visual static to alleviate the tedium, and then Act III is a bunch of wandering through a forest with unprepared actors with mediocre improvisation skills.

But what makes Alien Abduction a bit lower than just "familiar, boring, and lazy" is this: in most found footage horror films, someone needs to explain to the audience WHY everything is being filmed. This is one of the key components to a good film: give the audience a reason to play along with why the camera is rolling, and they'll happily do so.

Having said all that, Alien Abduction goes not only weak, but pretty low: our unflinching cameraman, who captures everything (somewhat professionally) as his family is destroyed by aliens -- is an 11-year-old autistic boy. Apparently someone thought "yeah, an autistic kid obsessed with a video camera is an easy way to keep shooting," but speaking only as one viewer, it comes off as crass, unkind, and stupidly insensitive. (The kid also gets his own "weep into the camera" scene, just like the one in The Blair Witch Project, only much tackier and sadder.)

The irony of found footage filmmaking is that the good films make it look so easy. But it's not. You need a lot more than five actors, a van, a forest, a camera, some lights, and a sound effects program to make a decent film -- as Alien Abduction clearly and repeatedly illustrates.