"Unidentified" suggests the sort of no-budget sci-fier Ed Wood might have made if he'd become a born-again Christian and started proselytizing in film. It's not quite awful enough to qualify as camp, which may work against its finding any audience.

“Unidentified” suggests the sort of no-budget sci-fier Ed Wood might have made if he’d become a born-again Christian and started proselytizing in film. It’s not quite awful enough to qualify as camp, which may work against its finding any audience. Indeed, it’s doubtful even the most undiscriminating devotees of religious-themed fare will flock to this ham-handed, lead-footed opus during its limited theatrical rollout.

In the world according to writer-director Rich Christiano, flying-saucer sightings are persuasive frauds caused by the Great Confuser — a.k.a. Satan — to distract mankind from devout belief in the mercy and miracles of God. The purpose of this demonic deception: After Christians are taken up by the Rapture, unbelievers will assume the missing were seized by extraterrestrials.

Two magazine reporters — a fallen-from-grace Christian (Jonathan Aube) and a cynically smart-mouthed Australian (Josh Adamson) — uncover evidence of conspiracy while investigating UFOs. But while the Aussie interprets the hoax as merely the work of con artists, the other journo, strongly influenced by the magazine’s frightfully zealous religion editor (Michael Blain-Rozgay), spots the devil in the details.

Produced on a pinchpenny budget that allows for minimal f/x, “Unidentified” often resembles the sort of ’50s Z-movies routinely trashed on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” (To indicate a flying saucer may be hovering overhead, Christiano beams a flickering light on an actor’s face.)

Even if the pic had glossier production values, it still would be stuck with actors who evidence more sincerity than talent, and a script that buries its one good idea — a genuinely clever allusion to Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast — beneath ungainly clumps of overbearing melodrama and shrill speechifying.

Unidentified

Production

A Five & Two Pictures release of a Christiano Film Group production. Produced by Rich Christiano, Alvin Mount. Directed, written by Rich Christiano.

Crew

Camera (color), Philip Hurn; editor, Jeffrey Hollis; music, Jasper Randall; production designer, Marc Hlavaty; sound, Neil Spritz; casting, Beverly Holloway. Reviewed at AMC Gulf Pointe 30, Houston, Oct. 5, 2006. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Jonathan Aube, Josh Adamson, Jenna Bailey, Lance Zitron, Rebecca St. James, Michael Blain-Rozgay.
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