New To Blu: Extraterrestrial

Extraterrestrial arrives on Earth in a blu-ray release this Tuesday. 

"Always walk towards burning things that
fall from the sky. Nothing bad
can happen."
The Vicious Brothers, that writing-directing duo behind the Canadian based runaway found-footage horror hit Grave Encounters, are back with their take on the alien abduction subgenre of science fiction, Extraterrestrial.  The technical merits of their previous hit are all there to be seen, from the unique use of found footage, the combination of scares with satire and their uncompromising attitude toward the paths their characters tread.  The homage to the likes of Communion, Alien and most notably, Fire in the Sky, are on display in full frontal nudity. And yet where Grave Encounters provided a send up of huckster Travel Channel shows about paranormal investigation shot in night vision in addition to being a horror film, Extraterrestrial makes the mistake of filming high quality photocopies of familiar ground treaded time and time again by infinitely more effective thrillers of the same ilk.  It has the blueprints of Fire in the Sky but not the heartbeat.

The cast of teenager stock characters do a serviceable job of running away in distress, breaking down, consoling one another before coming to some kind of closure with regard to their dark destinies.  Veteran horror icon Michael Ironside’s cameo appearances as a madcap pot grower who knows a bit more about the bizarre events than he leads on are the highlights of Extraterrestrial, giving science fiction fans some Bruce Campbell rib tickling.  Even Sean Rogersen, the ill-fated television host and last survivor of Grave Encounters, shows up as a skeptical cop who gets a dose of reality more shocking to his senses than he bargained for.  Extraterrestrial also manages to make room for a gory goof on the alien anal-probe trope.  Once these pass by, however, the film devolves into another hide and seek thriller of partying teens meeting Jason Voorhees in the form of little grey men with big black eyes. 

"Always use lube for the alien
rectal probe!!!"
As said before, the technical merits for a low budget indie effort are strong with competent CGI work and a fair amount of production design echoing Travis Walton’s journey into honeycomb Hell in Fire in the Sky.  There’s even a moment where a dreaded machine ready to perform the inevitable alien medical experiments on a helpless human victim that feels cut and pasted right out of The Matrix when Neo awakens and has his plugs removed.  

While not necessarily trying to set itself apart from the movies the Vicious Brothers clearly love, their reverent devotion to those kinds of movies also prove to be a detriment to the film’s solidarity.  Where the smaller and cheaper found-footage oriented Alien Abduction from earlier in the year managed to more or less retell the same story in a unique way, including depicting an abductee being sucked into the spaceship while still holding a handicam in hand, Extraterrestrial falls closer in line to something like Dark Skies where the familiarity of the premise and presentation tend towards becoming forgettable.

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