Starring: Corey Eid, Jillian Clare, Katherine Sigismund, Jeff Bowser, Riley Polanski, Peter Holden
JILLIAN – “Are those stars?”
RILEY – “Stars don’t move like that.”
By this point in my life I must have seen more ‘found footage’ movies than I’ve had lamb vindaloos, and let’s just say Indian Express in Wandsworth greatly appreciates my custom.
After all, a quick gander at the ‘handheld footage’ tag on this site will reveal that I’ve reviewed no fewer than 15 of the bastards on this site already.
Alien Abduction at least tries something slightly different by going with a subject matter you don’t often get in these first-person frightfests. See if you can guess what it is by the title.
The film follows the Morris family: a dad, a mother, their 20-something son and daughter and little Riley, an affable wee chap who constantly films things on his camcorder, because autism (that convenient catch-all excuse so many movies use to explain things).
The family is on a camping holiday near Brown Mountain in North Carolina, where the usual family-based hijinks ensue: in-jokes, gentle ribbing, general bonding and such.
This pleasant atmosphere starts to go slightly awry when the car’s GPS stops working and the family finds itself lost and running low on gas. Ah, shucks and such.
All seems well when they come across a tunnel with a police car parked outside, but it soon becomes clear that this is far from an ideal situation.
The car has been abandoned, as have the numerous other cars scattered around inside the tunnel. It looks as if masses of people suddenly left their cars without warning and have disappeared. Wonder why.
Unfortunately the family don’t have time to stop and ponder it because it quickly appears that someone – or indeed something – is also in the tunnel, and it’s looking to cause a jump-scare or twelve.
Alien Abduction is a decent wee effort, especially considering how done-to-death the found footage style is these days.
Once the initial discovery is made the pace is fairly frantic throughout, with plenty of tense moments and lots of obligatory running through forests.
It’s also not afraid to shock you with some surprising moments: without spoiling anything, it isn’t a film that’s afraid to ‘kill’ anyone in the cast regardless of who they are.
That said, it isn’t without its iffy moments, particularly halfway through the film when the family come across a house in the middle of the woods and meet Sean.
Sean is a stereotypical redneck character who brings any sense of authenticity the film had crashing to a halt almost immediately.
Though he’s a nice enough chap his whole “yee-haw” schtick and gun-and-dog combo makes him a blatant character in a film that purports to be showing us real people.
Not that you would have been under this impression by this point anyway. The family itself isn’t entirely believable: young Riley (who, being the ‘cameraman’, is restricted to voice work) is about as wooden as a pirate’s leg, while by my calculations the mother (played by a 34-year-old) must have had her daughter when she was about twelve.
It also suffers from an irritating tendency to chuck jump scares at you at regular intervals, which would be all well and good were they not so ear-meltingly loud compared to the normal dialogue.
Rounding things off on my list of gripes is the ending, which is completely ruined by the fact that – amazingly – the entire three-minute sequence is shown right at the start of the film.
In true parental style, I’m not angry at Alien Abduction for these niggles: I’m just disappointed. It does so much right and ensured I was intrigued right to the end, but it also puts so many feet wrong that were it a shoe shop the returns queue would stretch out the door.
By all means give it a go then, because it does a decent job with its small budget and will make you jump a few times. But don’t expect a masterclass on the genre.
HOW CAN I SEE IT?
Alien Abduction is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK, and is DVD-only in the US. Alternatively, it can be watched on the US version of Netflix. If you live in the UK and want to know how to access US Netflix, follow my guide.
SHOW ME THE TRAILER: