Tuesday, April 28, 2015

EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2014)

EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2014)

Label: Scream Factory / IFC Midnight 
Release Date: May 12th 2015
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 101 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Colin Minihan
Cast: Michael Ironside, Freddie Stroma, Brittany Allen, Anja Savcic, Jesse Moss, Gil Bellows, Melanie Papalia

Extraterrestrial (2014) starts off with a frantic young woman (Emily Perkins) who arrives in a panic outside a rural convenience store just as they've close up shop for the night. Seeing a phone booth nearby she runs to it and frantically dials for help, as she is doing so  the booth's light flicker on and off and in a brilliant burst of light she disappears, not just her but the entire phone booth. The next scene features the store clerk admitting to the local sheriff (Gil Bellows) that while he may have a history of ingesting hallucinogenic drugs what he saw that night was some seriously freaky shit. It's a nice start and felt very much like an X-Files episode, which is quite appropriate.  

Next up we meet a young college couple, April (Brittany Allen) and her boyfriend Hyle (Freddie Stroma), whom are off to April's family's cabin in the woods. She's going out to the cabin to snap a few pics of the property for her mother who is selling the property following her divorce. Unexpectedly tagging along for the weekend getaway are Seth (Jesse Moss) and his girlfriend Lex (Anja Savcic) plus April's best friend Melanie (Melanie Papalia). The three pile into an SUV and head off to the rural properly for a weekend of fun, we have the typical assortment of 20-something shenanigans, a montage of illicit fireworks, drinking and smoking weed and some relationship turmoil thrown into the mix. So far we have a group of five young people and a cabin in the woods, we're on pretty familiar territory and there's not much new under the sun and we sort of know where we're headed... until a fireball falls from the sky exploding into the nearby forest.

Drunk and curious our group arrive at the scene of the crash where they discover not a meteor but a UFO straight out of Mar's Attacks! Furthermore they find a set of alien footprints leading off into the woods in the direction of their cabin. Unfortunately for them they do not just jump into their car and head get the Hell out of there, of course not, instead they head back to the cabin which just happens to be the same direction as the alien foot prints seem to have been headed. What I sort of love about this film is that the  Vicious Brothers are not out to reinvent the alien encounter film, instead they cram a lot of familiar tropes and mash it up with a cabin in the woods movie, and it's pretty effective stuff. 

Beginning with the characters we have a a typical cross-section of 20-somethings, April and Kyle are a sweet young couple experiencing some relationship troubles, they each have some minor depth to them which makes sense since they are the main characters. Their three friends are rather annoying from the start, especially Seth, but even he managed to grows on me before the inevitable body count begins,he suffers a particularly painful dismemberment and anal-plunging at the hands of the aliens. Separate from the group of friends we have the weed-growing neighbor played by the always awesome Michael Ironside, a 'Nam vet with a penchant for conspiracies who doesn't appreciate any sort of intrusion on his property. I only wish we had more of him but what we do get is pretty awesome, he adds some flavor to what is really a minor character. Additionally we have Gil Bellows as the local Sheriff and his deputy investigating the strange disappearance at the start of the film, they have a great scene in the squad car when they encounter one of the aliens, which is very memorable and a bit gory. 

It's a low-budget movie but looks great, shot on Red HD cameras the film is surprisingly polished with some nice locations and great lighting, you can see the tiny budget onscreen with loads of production value, quality digital effects and some great atmospheric lighting. Visually this one top notch production, major kudos to the production team for what they were able to get onscreen. The aliens look very good, again they're not reinventing the wheel here and keep with the standard large-eyed greys familiar to us in everything from Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind on through to the X-Files. 


At one point we arrive on the alien ship, which broadens the scope of the film, giving it a Fire In The Sky vibe by way of the Matrix, quite a feat for a low-budget movie but they pull it off well enough with scenes of slime covered cocoons and the not-unexpected bloody anal-probing, we get a nice balance of sci-fi and horrific gruesomeness throughout.

A fun watch, a mix of sci-fi and horror tropes mashed-up in a way that is fast paced and entertaining, even the love story that figures strongly into the finale didn't feel too forced. The inclusion of the Magnetic Fields tune "Book of Love" is a nice counterpoint to the nihilistic ending, which is dark, and includes an possible homage to the X-Files character Cigarette Smoking Man along with a great government cover-up to top it off. 

Audio/Video: The Blu-ray from Scream Factory  and IFC Midnight is solid with a crisp HD image with strong color saturation and black levels, a top notch presentation. The English 7.1 DTS-HD MA is powerful and immersive, the bombastic low-end blast that announces the arrival of the alien spacecraft was intense and rattled my shelves, plus the soundtrack featuring Crystal Castles, Magnetic Fields and Elton John among others sounds terrific.

Bonus content on the disc begins with an audio commentary with the Vicious Brothers and actors Brittany Allen And Melanie Papalia, The breezy commentary features the Vicious Brothers chime in from time to time with technical talk about lens choices and creating the many effects for the film, but mostly it's just commenting on scenes with anecdotes about making the film. Additionally there are a collection of deleted scenes, a making of featurette and a trailer for the film, plus additional trailers from IFC Midnight. Non disc extras include a slipcase and a reversible sleeve of artwork, which I always appreciate. 

Special Features
- Audio Commentary With The Vicious Brothers and Actors Brittany Allen and Melanie Papalia
- Deleted Scenes (7 Mins) HD
- The Making Of Extraterrestrial Featurette (8 Mins) HD
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins)

- IFC Midnight Trailers ( 6 Mins) HD 

Loved this one from start to finish, a spunky sci-fi horror mash-up with some quality special effects and a good cast. Proof that it doesn't have to be an original idea to give it a recommend, just entertaining, which this certainly is. *** 3/5 

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