Director: Colin Minihan Starring: Brittany Allen, Freddie Stroma & Michael Ironside Synopsis: A group of friends on a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods find themselves terrorized by alien visitors Rating: 15 Run time: 101 minutes Release date: 9 March (VOD) 16 March (DVD)
Directed by one half of The Vicious Brothers, Extraterrestrial is a B-movie that wants to be the next Evil Dead or The Cabin in the Woods, but lacks the knowing humour or genre exploitations that made both of those films so popular. As such, Extraterrestrial comes across as a film that doesn’t quite know its place in the world. Is it a clever nod to the horror genre and all that makes it great, or is it a poor relative to the likes of Sharknado and the type of fare the Syfy channel offers on a Friday night?
Unfortunately, Extraterrestrial seems to fall into the latter camp. What starts out interestingly enough, with a very well shot first scene, soon descends into the usual genre tropes of four American teenagers taking a short break at the family home, which just happens to be a cabin in the woods and well away from any sort of human contact. These good-looking kids get drunk, smoke weed and inadvertently bring down an alien spacecraft. As you do.
As such, what started out as a weekend getaway soon ends being the stuff of nightmares for the films cast. As events spiral out of control, our heroes find themselves in the midst of something bigger than any of them could have ever imagined. All the while, the local Sheriff is attempting to solve a missing persons case, one that has all the hallmarks of an alien abduction, but has so far been unable to get to the bottom of the mystery.
With the youthful cast proceeding to run around screaming and panicking, Extraterrestrial loses any sort of rhythm it had built up in the films earlier scenes and beocmes a confusing collection of scenes where the director and cast have seemingly lost their way.
Director Colin Minihan has, to his credit, crafted a really good-looking film. From the films cast, to the American countryside, to the aliens mother ship, Extraterrestrial is a lovely looking film, but one where looks seem to outweigh plot and characterisation. The basic story is as formulaic as can be, and seems to borrow many of its cues from genre classics like Night of the Living Dead, The X-Files, Close Encounters of the Third Kind to more modern tales such as Dark Skies and Skyline.
While there is nothing wrong with paying homage to the classics, it does become a hindrance when it seems as if the films creators are doing nothing more wanting to copy those films best moments. Because of this, Extraterrestrial lacks an identity of its own and only succeeds in being a passable nights entertainment.
On the plus side, two of the films four main cast members seem genuinely likable in April (Brittany Allen) and Kyle (Freddie Stroma) and it is their relationship that largely carries the film, even if the films desire to keep them together does seem too forced. There is also able support given by Gil Bellows as Sherriff Murphy and Michael Ironside who plays pot smoking, Vietnam veteran Travis. These two great character actors give the film more credibility than it possibly deserves, and it is somewhat of a shame that their stories seem a lot more interesting than what is presented to us for the majority of the films running time.
In summary: Extraterrestrial does little that is new with the genre, and trained horror fans will see every twist and turn coming. However, having Michael Ironside star in your film instantly makes it better, and helps raise the film above average. Only just though.