Monday, November 17, 2014

Alien Abduction (2014)

Ever since Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (and, probably, the annual X-Files marathons of my youth), I've associated Thanksgiving with alien abductions. So I like to cap my usual October horror movie marathon with an alien abduction movie or two sometime in November. I was concerned that the indiscreetly named Alien Abduction might be just another cheap, low-budget horror film capitalizing on what many consider to be a patently ridiculous premise, but, to my pleasure, Alien Abduction is a true found footage film in the vein of The Blair Witch Project.

It's based on a real life local superstition - the Brown Mountain Lights of North Carolina - and the film proper is bookended by interviews with locals, eyewitnesses, and alleged professionals which could - as far as I can tell - actually be real. The movie seems like a respectful homage to the local legend, in the form of the dramatization of a family's disappearance in the mountains during a camping trip. Though any critical viewing of the film (by anyone older than, say, 11) will reveal it to be an obvious fake, the film takes itself pretty seriously, and while acknowledging the leap of faith required to believe in alien abduction, presents the events depicted as a straight-faced "what if?" - because, after all, we can't be entirely sure.

The acting is not flawless - right from the start, the family members are all way too attractive, try too hard to be clever (and, weirdly, just a little bit sexist), and their emotional reactions when the shit starts to hit the fan are at times obviously dramatized - but looking back, the acting in Incident in Lake County wasn't that spectacular either. The settings are beautiful - reminiscent of my own experiences camping in the Appalachian mountains. And the mountain man that turns up has a very convincing accent (I say that as someone who's spent some time living in West Virginia).

But first and foremost, this is a found footage film on the subject of alien abduction - and though it may not be perfect, it's probably as good as any one I've seen yet. It definitely delivers the goods (which is a problem for a lot of found footage movies, The Blair Witch Project included), and even manages to work in some footage on board the alien spacecraft (I don't think this is really a spoiler, since the movie opens with this footage), which is something that is lacking in certain other alien abduction movies, and that I would rate as necessary for a perfect adaptation of the theme. I would definitely include it in any alien abduction movie marathon, alongside other classics of the subgenre.

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