Film Review: ‘Alien Abduction’

Alien Abduction Review

Extraterrestrials hunt for humans in the Brown Mountain region of North Carolina in yet another found-footage shocker.

A sci-fi thriller as generic as its title, “Alien Abduction” generates only low-voltage shocks, taking a found-footage approach to its familiar scenario about hapless earthlings hunted by inquisitive extraterrestrials. Released simultaneously as theatrical and VOD fare, it’s bound to vanish as quickly as a fleetingly glimpsed UFO after a few close encounters with paying viewers.

Working from a run-of-the-mill script by Robert Lewis, helmer Matty Beckerman follows the misadventures of a family gradually decimated during an ill-timed camping trip. Parents Peter (Peter Holden) and Katie (Katie Sigismund) pay little heed to dark rumors about the true meaning of mysterious lights sighted in the Brown Mountain region of North Carolina  a real-life phenomenon, by the way  and drive deep into the woods to pitch tents and savor nature. Also along for the ride: Their two adolescent children (Jillian Clare, Corey Eid) and a third offspring, Riley (Riley Polanski), an 11-year-old autistic who constantly operates a camcorder as his way of coping with a sometimes scary world.

Yes, you guessed it: “Alien Abduction” consists almost entirely of footage supposedly shot by Riley, whose world actually gets very, very scary as he and his family witness such unsettling portents as downpours of dead crows and dozens of abandoned cars scattered along roadsides and inside tunnels. One thing leads to another, and the visuals get progressively shakier and more staticky, as extraterrestrials make their presence  and, more important, their intention  evident.

Beckerman and Lewis deserve some credit for bothering to logically explain why the person shooting their particular “found footage” might keep shooting and shooting even while ducking and dodging. And the filmmakers earn a few more points for a truly intriguing supporting character: Sean (well played by Jeff Bowser), a grumpy, gun-toting redneck who’s probably involved in criminal activities, and who is less than hospitable when Riley and what’s left of his family show up at the door of Sean’s isolated cabin.

“I came out here,” Sean rails at his unwelcome guests, “to get away from folks like you with your dumbass questions.” Later, however, Sean settles down, and even seems a mite protective while warning that the extraterrestrials hovering somewhere outside in the darkness are a lot like humans who go night fishing. As they consider what they’ve caught, Sean says, they’re discriminating: “Some they keep. Some they toss back.”

Except for Sean and a mildly clever final twist, however, there’s little to distinguish “Alien Abduction” from the dozens of similar small-budget suspensers already available in various homescreen platforms. Production values are average for the found-footage subgenre, with special effects only as special as they need be for a movie that relies more on the power of suggestion than on CGI spectacle.

Film Review: 'Alien Abduction'

Reviewed online, Houston, April 4, 2014. Running time: 86 MIN.

Production

An IFC Midnight release of an Exclusive Media Group presentation of a Big Picture production in association with Next Entertainment. Produced by Mike Fleiss, Cathy Beckerman, Matty Beckerman, Lawrence Bender. Executive producers, Guy East, Alex Brunner, Huw Lewis, Alyssa Beckerman, Jared Beckerman.

Crew

Directed by Matty Beckerman. Screenplay, Robert Lewis. Camera (color), Luke Geissbuhler; editor, Steve Mirkovich; music, Benjamin Weinman; production designer, Steve Legler; costume designer, Alexis Scott; sound, Dan Bricker; stunt coordinator, Cal Johnson; assistant director, Joel Jeffrey Nishimine; casting, Dominika Posseren, Kelly Wagner.

With

Katie Sigismund, Corey Eid, Riley Polanski, Jillian Clare, Jeff Bowser, Peter Holden.
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  1. Ben Fuller says:

    For the type of movie and budget it is and had I thought it was good. I’m into these alien based movies and I have to say compared to other “found footage” movies based on aliens this was the best even go as far as saying the most believable most try to show to much aka alien abduction the macphearson story, the fourth kind which showed far to much even tho it supposedly had actual footage and voice recordings from the real life “events” I found this great. The less was much better and showed you can make a good found footage movie without going over the top

  2. Reblogged this on HORROR BOOM and commented:
    Watched the movie on VOD tonight, and I don’t think the reviewer has seen as many shitty, sloppy, hlaf-hearted found-footage movies as we have. I’d say the movie is above average, especially for this genre. I’ve never found aliens particularly scary, though if our house was suddenly bathed in blinding white light accompanied by a roaring sounds and some weird, clearly-non-human thing approached me, I think I’d be pretty goddamned scared. “The Fourth Kind” had exactly one scary moment, and while it was pretty frightening while it lasted, that was about it for me, and I’d probably recommend this over that–depending on your tolerance for ‘found footage’ horror movies, though I only watched this in SD rather than HD and 90% of the movie wasn’t a series of blurs. You also won’t be distracted by the weird meta-style of TFK where Milla Johovich plays herself (going as far as to tell you, the viewer, she’s Milla Johovich at the start of the movie– way to destroy the fourth wall, there) portraying the main character, but the actual main character is also shown as portrayed by an actress who tells the event–oh, screw it. You only see glimpses of they aliens, but they don’t look like the typical “grays” you’ve seen in movies like 2013’s “Dark Skies” and the “Alien Abduction Slumber Party” (the final section/story of “V/H/S 2”). If you pause the frame, you can see them (barely, and you’ll have to spend a while timing it right) and you mainly see browns and reds, one with a lobster-like ‘face’. They aren’t cute in any way. Also, “Alien Abduction” doesn’t follow as close to the typical found-footage formula as the reviewer states; the shit hits the fan about 20 minutes into the movie, and keeps a pretty fast and scary pace up until the ending. Characters do take time for a breather when they can, but even then, things stay intense, as the movie rachets up the tension effectively enough so that you know they can be attacked with no warning or provocation. Oh, and when the character mentioned in the review says that ‘some they keep, some they toss back’? They REALLY toss them back. You’ll know it when you see it.

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