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It’s probably been at least several days since the last found-footage horror movie, with Alien Abduction arriving just in time to satisfy the popular genre. Matty Beckerman’s debut feature is the latest to take advantage of the format’s stylistic tropes to deliver a low-budget exercise that delivers a few decent scares without managing to come up with anything remotely original.
Inspired by the legend of the “Brown Mountain Lights” that have mysteriously appeared for hundreds of years in a remote region of North Carolina, the film begins with an onscreen message that “The following is actual footage leaked from the U.S. Air Force.” Said footage is purported to be entirely shot by an eleven-year-old boy who’s described as autistic, a condition that could well afflict anyone in these sorts of films who takes the time to photograph life-threatening events rather than, say, run.
The story involves the Morris family, who make the unwise decision to go camping in the Brown Mountains. They include parents Peter and Katie (Peter Holden, Katie Sigismund), teenagers Jillian and Corey (Jillian Clare, Corey Eid), and youngest son Riley (Riley Polanski), who uses his video camera as a way to shield himself from the world.
After some minor mishaps such as getting lost after their GPS craps out, the family finds itself in the middle of all hell breaking loose, including having their car pummeled by scores of crows falling out of the sky and driving into a tunnel filled with abandoned cars and emergency vehicles. It soon becomes apparent that the bright lights that keep reappearing are the work of — you guessed it — aliens, who don’t exactly match the friendliness of E.T.
It isn’t long before various family members get sucked up into the sky, with the others taking refuge in a cabin inhabited by Sean (Jeff Bowser), a gun-toting redneck without a phone who’s as menacing as he is protective.
Director of photography Luke Geissbuhler employs the familiar shaky, distorted and blinding light-afflicted video style endemic to the found-footage format, which comes in awfully handy in terms of compensating for budgetary limitations. We do get a few fleeting glimpses of the alien creatures, admittedly convincingly rendered, but the film’s overall impact is diminished by the rote screenplay, stock characters and mostly unconvincing performances.
Despite a neat narrative twist delivered during the end credits, Alien Abduction is ultimately a by-the-numbers enterprise that will please only the most undemanding audiences at midnight screenings.
Opens April 4 (IFC Midnight)
Production: Big Picture, Next Entertainment, Lawrence Bender
Cast: Katie Sigismund, Corey Eid, Riley Polanski, Jilian Clare, Jeff Bowser, Peter Holden
Director: Matty Beckerman
Screenwriter: Robert Alvin Lewis
Producers: Mike Fleiss, Cathy Beckerman, Matty Beckerman, Lawrence Bender
Executive producers: Guy East, Alex Brunner, Huw Lewis, Alyssa Beckerman, Jared Beckerman
Director of photography: Luke Geissbuhler
Editor: Steven Mirkovich
Production designer: Steven Legler
Costume designer: Alexis Scott
Composer: Benjamin Weinman
Not rated, 86 min.
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