Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Device (2014)

The Device is - quite unexpectedly - a low budget alien abduction movie masquerading as a big budget alien invasion flick (if the cover images are to be believed). I hate to say bad things about it, because I love alien abduction movies, and though it suffers from its low budget, it's actually pretty good as far as low budget movies go, with decent, if not spectacular, creature effects, and perfectly adequate acting.

But though you can't blame the producers or distributors (or whoever is responsible) for wanting to talk up the movie's appeal, the picture you get from looking at and reading the box is so startlingly different from the product inside that you can't help feeling like you've been tricked. And, what's more, I think you'd actually be in a better position to appreciate the movie for what it is if you weren't expecting something completely different (and better).

The cover image is something like a cross between Species and Ghost in the Shell, with a naked, crouching woman supported by cybernetic cables. The image on the back of the box features a vaguely robotic-looking alien wreaking havoc on a city street with some kind of badass electromagnetic pulse weapon. Neither of which even remotely resembles anything at all in the movie.

The synopsis plays up the sci-fi alien invasion angle, and while the plot details may not be technically inaccurate, the movie itself does not play as a man vs. aliens standoff (a la Independence Day) so much as a quiet drama almost exclusively limited to three actors dealing with the [personal] experience and [personal] repercussions of alien abduction, after they find a strange black sphere (which never really does anything, beyond the psychological) amid debris from a crash site in the woods not far from their cabin.

As far as the movie itself actually goes, it's not the best alien abduction flick I've seen, but it does pretty well with limited resources. It even manages to throw some original ideas into the mix - as far as I know, those aliens with their genetic experiments have never had to contend with humans deliberately aborting their alien-human hybrid fetuses before. And I can't be sure, but it seemed like in one scene one of the aliens was actually receiving some kind of sexual satisfaction from the human experiments it was doing.

Bizarre, but it puts a whole new spin on an old concept. The aliens themselves weren't the scariest I've seen, but they were intimidating enough, and some of the situations in the movie were effectively chilling - at least to someone like me with a weakness for alien abductions - in spite of a lot of the time being spent on Lifetime drama and wondering why this isn't the movie that was depicted on the cover.

Taken on its own merit, this is, at best, a mediocre alien abduction film (albeit the good ones are few and far between) that probably only alien abduction junkies (like me) will want to see. Still, that's no excuse to bill it as something it's not, and I feel like the deceptive marketing campaign takes something away from the movie - surely, I can imagine it has inspired a lot of disgruntled viewers who were expecting something much different. I honestly couldn't fault them for complaining.

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