Director: Robert Lieberman
Starring: C B Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, James Garner, Henry Thomas. USA. 1h 49m
Based on: The Walton Experience by Travis Walton
After a decade of making dramas tinged with politics or romance, Lieberman took a step out of his comfort zone for this creepy film based on a the alleged accounts of an alien abduction survivor Travis Walton and this life after returning to earth.
The film starts out innocent enough when a group of life long friends are returning home from work in Snowflake Arizona, when Travis (Sweeney) is abducted by lights in the sky, the friends freak out but Mike Rogers (Partrick) reports that Travis has been abducted by aliens, this sparks a rugged local sheriff (Garner) to think that Mike and the others, were involved in Travis’s disappearance. after a lot of nervousness between the men who are reporting the incident, taking their unreal fear for guilt he approaches with a fairly open mind but believes he just needs to find evidence of a misdemeanour.
A lot of this film is taken up by a tense atmosphere created by Lieberman in this small american town where the locals aren’t sure if Travis has been killed by his friends or if they are really being stalked by Aliens, nervously his spouse shuffles about her daily tasks, and from the twitching curtains the men are viewed as killer or crazy. They are basically put on trial, take lie detectors and are outcast by the town.
Everything is supposed to be put to bed when Travis randomly reappears five days later when he’s discovered beside a gas station, alive, dehydrated and incoherent. Reporters and UFOlogists flock to find out more as he attempts to get back to his normal life, his relationships in tatters and his personality and curious behavior totally changed, as he tries to hide/explain what happened to him and then the film enters it’s most memorable 20 minutes of amazing cinema.
We get to glance a personal snapshot of Travis waking up on board the alien ship and being experimented on, these few minutes are both exhilarating and terrifying, waking up inside of a slimy cocoon on board of a ship with unrecognisable gravity and then being subjected to terrible surgeries is never going to be easy to watch and for me is the golden topper of this otherwise mundane drama. The ship is everything we’d expect to see a Xenomorph appear in and the aliens take a shape different from the average Grays that were popular at the time. Even if you don’t fancy sitting through the whole movie then it’s certainly worth watching this one horrific scene.
So much of the movie blends into one dusty drama after seeing this explosive ending, but for this it’s a hot contender of one of the better alien abduction movies, with the Fourth Kind (2009) taking it to the next level. A well accomplished movie that could have more extraterrestrial influence injected but stays true to the original story and those involved.
L: Abduction Films