Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review: Vicious Brothers' Extraterrestrial

At the suggestion of blogging colleague Dan Summer, he and I attended the Tribeca Film Festival's world premiere of Extraterrestrial, directed by Colin Minihan and written and edited by the Vicious Brothers. I did not have high expectations for this film, and prepared myself for a possible mocking laughfest similar to some previous experiences I have had. As it turned out, Extraterrestrial is excellent.

As it also turned out, when the movie ended and the lights came on, the Vicious Brothers had been sitting behind me and Dan during the screening, so I'm glad I didn't laugh through the whole thing. Which is not to say there's no humor in it--there's quite a bit, and it's cleverly laced into a drama that is at times rather intense.

The film makes use of a cliched situation--young people in a cabin in the woods facing danger--to explore the cliches of the UFO/alien abduction subculture that grew to such prominence in the 1990s. Even though I've been writing about space since the early 1990s, I always found that alien subculture a bit of a bore, even as I took derisive note of it from time to time. But this movie, by examining what it might be like if this mythology were based on truth, shows some things not previously shown or well-imagined in film (including a certain probe's eye view that received considerable audience notice).

Beautiful actress Britanny Allen, also present at the screening, was excellent as April, the protagonist who receives her boyfriend's marriage proposal shortly before the aliens descend. I asked the filmmakers in the Q and A afterwards if they had considered an alternative, more aggressive, scenario that I had imagined for April's response to the aliens, and in fact they had but the creative process and their budget limitations had dictated otherwise.

Besides being excellent entertainment, this film is a reminder of something I have noted before: "If intelligent extraterrestrials are detected, then being a spacefaring civilization will place us in a stronger position to deal with them, whether cooperatively or not."

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