I’m not a fan of cheesy sci-fi “alien” movies, but I love chilling films that take a serious approach to the many documented cases of people who say they were abducted by aliens: Communion, Fire in the Sky, The Fourth Kind. So here are three that put a new spin on the general concept.
This goody has been in my collection for a long time, so when I dug it out for this blog, imagine my surprise when I discovered it was from director Eduardo Sánchez, who directed Bigfoot movie Exists (one of my favorite found footage flicks), the scary flick Seventh Moon, which I just blogged about the other day, the recent Supernatural episode “The Chitters,” which featured a gay couple, several episodes of the From Dusk Till Dawn TV show, and the awesome “A Ride in the Park” zombie story in V/H/S 2. He’s also responsible for the wacky Lovely Molly…and one movie I’d rather not even mention, which is sadly his most famous: The Blair Witch Project.
Altered is a blast, combining a suspenseful creature feature with some redneck humor. Traumatized by an encounter as children that left one of their ranks dead, four friends (including Mike from The Blair Witch Project) capture an alien in the woods, planning to torture it in the garage of adorable leading man Adam Kaufman, who got his start playing the douche that used Buffy for sex when she started college.
As the foursome fights over whether or not it was a good idea to capture one of the aliens, the fucker escapes! Crazy-creepy-gory fun follows as they try to hunt the alien down in the house while avoiding its desire for their intestines! Ew! Shit gets gross, because the alien attaches this little spidery thing called a clicker to your guts so that it can pretty much control you. In fact, everyone suffers very unique side effects as the movie progresses.
I love that this film takes the approach of having victims of alien abduction and probing seek revenge instead of the usual narrative of traumatic flashbacks recounting what they experienced. Plus, the aliens in no way come in peace, and the freaky looking creature gets full exposure—no shadowing it in dark light for an hour and a half. In a sense, this feels like a throwback to cult alien films of the 1980s (the alien is kind of C.H.U.D.-like), and we even get a stunningly fresh spaceship design in the final moments.
LOST TIME (2014)
Damn, this movie gets torn apart online. I’m shocked, and can only assume that haters didn’t bother to watch it through to the end. The first part of the film is a gloomy portrait of a woman struggling with the disappearance of her dying sister, and the breakdown of her relationship with a man—sizzling hot Luke Goss, former member of boy band Bros (Bros not hoes, for sure).
But this woman is trying to cope with having no memory of what led to her sister’s disappearance, even though they were in a car together when it happened.
When she begins to have terrifying flashes of recall that convince her that aliens abducted her sister, she enters a sort of rehab for people who’ve had encounters with aliens. Before long, insanity ensues. The patients start experiencing paranormal attacks, the body count rises, there’s a great twist concerning the aliens, and even fricking Lin Shaye steps in to save the day. Awesome.
THE ENCOUNTER (2015)
The Encounter comes to us from Robert Conway, who brought us Exit to Hell and Krampus: The Reckoning. I really admire his ability to authentically tap into a variety of horror subgenres and bring us a different experience with each movie.
While this one could easily be written off as just another found footage film with people running around the woods screaming, I think it makes good use of its alien theme and offers a unique twist.
A park ranger goes to examine a meteor that crashed in the woods. Meanwhile, a couple of guys are out hunting, and another group is camping. Overlooking the fact that everyone in the movie has decided to film what they’re doing, the movie totally delivers, from throwbacks to mandatory 80s sex scenes to genuinely creepy alien visuals.
It’s not quite as relentless as Bigfoot-themed found footage flick Exists (which I noted above comes from Altered director Eduardo Sánchez), but the aliens are damn terrifying, the pacing is intense, and a final UFO spotting eerily captures just how unreal a real close-up sighting of a UFO might be.