“EXTRATERRESTRIAL” (Blu-ray Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
When it comes to the Tribeca-friendly filmmaking duo known as The Vicious Brothers, I have to admit that I’ll always keep a curious eye on their productions. Wherein their projects to date have a fair share of flaws, the GRAVE ENCOUNTERS films both contained an impressive amount of fun and frights to counteract said issues. So when I had learned that The Vicious Brothers would be returning properly with EXTRATERRESTRIAL, which would take them out of their found footage comfort zone with a much more ambitious story altogether, I was excited to see what they could do, despite hearing negative reviews from my colleagues. And with Scream Factory’s release of the IFC Midnight flick, I finally found a good opportunity to catch the film and see for myself what EXTRATERRESTRIAL was all about.
While EXTRATERRESTRIAL has some great individual moments sporadically throughout the film, my colleagues were essentially right about the film in their criticisms. The film sports some absolutely gorgeous visuals, some interesting sequences and a batshit insane performance from a lively Michael Ironside, EXTRATERRESTRIAL doesn’t offer much else, instead relying on the familiar and the nerve-grinding to reach their final destination. To an extent, I understand the campier elements and juvenile humor have a very specific intention; after all, you don’t make one of your leads a complete asshole without an equally karmic punishment. But just because a filmmaker has a motivated intention doesn’t necessarily make it work, and when compared to the rest of the film, which is a tonal rollercoaster from start to finish, the intention is met with utter indifference.
That’s not to say the film is a completely disposable endeavor, as what The Vicious Brothers do get right is worthy of merit after all. A hallucination sequence under alien mind control, some vivid abduction sequences and sequence involving rain cover shows that The Vicious Brothers do have some tricks up their sleeves as filmmakers. Hell, even their approach to a tumultuous romance between the leads even has an inkling of heartfelt reality to it. But those sequences are too few and far between, and for the most part, we’re left with cinematic crutches: slow motion sequences set to cover songs, predictable reveals and jump scares and dirty jokes that take almost an entire movie to reach their punchline.
Luckily, fans of EXTRATERRESTRIAL as well as the curious fright fan will find no better package than the one from Scream Factory. Scream Factory’s HD transfer of the digitally shot flick is pristine, bringing out the most minute details in stunning 1080p quality. The same also goes for the sound mix, adding a real dynamic stereo sound guaranteed to make the more intense moments all the more engulfing for home theater enthusiasts.
On the other hand, if the great transfer is for the fans, the extras on the disc are strictly for EXTRATERRESTRIAL superfans. The audio commentary with the Vicious Brothers, Brittany Allen and Melanie Papalia is a chore to sit through, as the interesting tidbits and information about the film and its cast is largely pushed aside for in-jokes and pointless asides that would normally give the track some character had it not felt so out-of-place. A much better way to get the interesting parts of the commentary streamlined would be the “Making Of” featurette, which helps cover the same ground and give a more professional look into the film’s production. Also featured on the disc are deleted scenes, which are mostly disposable short scenes that slightly explore the characters more, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.
Though there is much about EXTRATERRESTRIAL that shows promise in The Vicious Brothers as filmmakers, the film itself is unfortunately all style and almost no substance. Aside from choice sequences and the occasionally great performance (especially from a 110% Michael Ironside and a devoted Gil Bellows), the film is a bit too campy to be frightening, and a bit too desperate to be campy, leaving it in a weird and all-too-familiar area of cinematic frustration. Scream Factory tries hard to give the film the best treatment possible, and likely better than the film deserves, but this is strictly a release for the fans and for the incredibly curious.