Director: Matty Beckerman
Writer: Robert Lewis
Starring: Katherine Sigismund, Corey Eid, Riley Polanski. USA. 1h 25m
Found footage is the genre which everyone love to hate but I thoroughly enjoy the first hand take on traumatic and intense situations. There have been a few interesting alien found footage shorts and the segment from VHS 2 (2013) simply titled Slumber Party Alien Abduction, which is creepy and really fast paced horror.
Taking into consideration a few decades of abduction accounts, there’s scope for a number of movies, but the directorial debut from Beckerman successfully manages to combine a lot of ideas and theories together to tell a gripping story and uniquely from the perspective of an 11 year old autistic boy named Riley.
Riley and his family are out enjoying a family camping trip in Brown Mountain, North Carolina. On the last night of the trip while trying to get home they notice a few strange lights in the sky, are attacked by a flock of birds that mysteriously die on the stretch of road in front of them, then after the sat nav directs them back to certain spot, they lose phone signal and the father is abducted, the family realise what dangers they are in and the chase starts. After dodging aliens and trying to get to the nearest town for help they stumble on a cabin owned by Sean (Jeff Bowser), who inform the family about the history of the Brown Mountain Lights and abductions have been a local recurrence for centuries. Soon the cabin is attacked and the family, along with sean are soon on the run again with a final showdown with the aliens.
There is a strange military presence in the film, at the beginning and end, but the rest of it is quite cleverly crafted around the viewpoint of a young boy, not necessarily an autistic child though, but definitely from a shorter viewpoint.
The film gets up to quite an exciting pace, and I was sold on a lot of the ideas, the dead birds have been done to death, especially in more recent films like Dark Skies (2013), but there are some harrowing and darker aspects that the movie totally nails. But the downside is that it tries to cram so much in that it forgets which direction to go, several times.
The Brown Mountain Lights is a “real” phenomenon (check the Wiki for details) and the film probably draws from different accounts of abduction from that site, it’s not really clear, what is clear is that this family will get no rest on this night. At every turn the pesky aliens are hot on their heels, which is pretty thrilling during the movie but afterwards I couldn’t quite work out why they would bother chasing them when they could just beam them up right?
Beckerman is quite intent of using the whole idea of small creepy creatures chasing this family throughout the night, but it doesn’t feel right that greys are most suitable critters for the job, but the family are, as they seem to be related which helped a great deal with getting the family dynamics right the added bonus is that they were able to ad lib their way through the film. But the acting performance of the film go to Jeff Bowser who’s no nonsense hillbilly has some of the best lines in the film and gets folded up in bizarre ways during one of the best abduction scenes for a long time.
I feel that the film is generally slated just because it’s found footage but there is a lot here to keep the senses riveted, an engaging story and some brilliant characters. Make sure you watch until the very end as there are some post credits scenes that add some extra depth to the story.
Everything has been done right, the only downside is that it’s nothing new, there’s no attempt to make the audience think differently or to expose ideas or even conspiracy theories. But if you don’t mind switching off and following this journey, it’s not half bad.