I've been writing for a bit that creative types need to find new, innovative ways for found footage films to still work. The tried-and-true method of running around a cryptic woods or haunted house has been played out in the wake of the unending deluge of Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity clones. Luckily recent films like The Den and the upcoming Affliction have taken advantage of streaming video and mobile technologies to craft terse, exciting tales of horror. However, films like Alien Abduction make me sit back and consider eating my words. In the right hands, room still exists for simple, point and shoot films that look about as polished as your typical home movies from hell.
After a brief mockumentary style introduction introducing the viewer to the phenomenon of the mysterious “Blue Lights” of North Carolina, the film introduces us to the Morris family. The clan has taken off for a camping trip, and their twelve year old son Riley is filming the whole trip. The film explains that Riley is autistic, and the video camera is a constant presence that allows him to interact with the world around him. This character trait allows the film to get around the “why are they still filming?” question when shit starts to turn sour. The film allows for time to get to know the family, and I'm happy to say the Morris crew is mostly a delightful bunch. One of my biggest beefs regarding modern genre films is too little time is taken to allow the viewer to invest in the fates of the characters. Films are too often stocked with cannon fodder, and worse, unlikeable cannon fodder. Alien Abuction allows for enough time for you to see the Morris family are a kind, good natured and tight knit group which allows you to invest in their fate rather than check out during the build up.
Before unleashing out of this world horrors, Alien Abduction builds tension with the old fashioned trope of the family getting lost on the way to their second campsite. Dad seems close to having a nervous breakdown and exposes a bit of an anger management problem when he blows his top at Riley for continuing to film. You can hardly blame him as the car is dangerously low on fuel, they are miles away from any sort of civilization in any direction and their electrical equipment seems to be haywire. When the Morrises find what they think is the campsite, all they find are a slew abandoned vehicles and strewn belongings.
From that moment on Alien Abduction does not let up. The following sequence involves the dad and his two sons exploring a tunnel and it is about as much fun as you can have while gripping your armrest in terror as humanly possible. Subtlety is not Alien Abduction's strong suit. If you prefer the slow burn of a Ti West, jam, the jarring, jolting shocks this film delivers every five minutes or so will not be your cup of tea. The film is bombastic and over the top, cuing the viewer to pay attention whenever the electronics start to misbehave and announcing the arrival of its alien terror with flashing red and blue lights and high decibel horn bleats. The scare tactic of joint is the jump scare, but thankfully there's not a fake out among the bunch. From the midpoint on of Alien Abduction, the Morris family find themselves running screaming in terror, shivering with fright trying to avoid detection or getting picked off one by one.
At an hour and a quarter, the film doesn't wear out its welcome. If anything, the run time is padded with a return to the mockumentary footage over the end credits. That might be my only complaint about the film...this footage feels a bit out of place. I'd rather see more of the footage filmed on board the UFO, but overall, this is a minor quibble. If you enjoy fun, over the top horror movies that have no goal in mind aside from trying to get you to jump out of your seat, then Alien Abduction fits that bill to a “T”
ALIEN ABDUCTION makes its Boston area premiere Friday April 11th & Saturday April 12th at the Somerville Theater. Visit AllThingsHorror.com for details. The film is also available on various VOD platforms.