Every now and then, you watch a film that pleasantly surprises you and confounds all of your expectations in the best possible way. Extraterrestrial is one of those films. Before the film started (and admittedly during the half hour or so) I was expecting yet another run of the mill, formulaic horror film in which a group of fresh faced young actors get picked off one by one by some evil force. And with the title of the film in mind, it wasn’t too hard to guess who or rather what that force would be. But then something quite unusual happened… I found myself glued to the screen, enjoying every second of what I was watching. Not only was I being thoroughly entertained, but I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next… and being an old, grumpy and jaded reviewer, this is no small claim.
So, here’s the plot then… A group of delinquent youngsters go on a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods to party, drink, smoke weed and whatever else it is that young people do these days. All is going according to plan until they find themselves terrorised by wrathful visitors from outer space.
All the usual suspects are accounted for; you have the young couple in love, the blonde bimbo, the hipster party boy, the geek… it all sounds fairly familiar right? That’s because it is… but Extraterrestrial does one crucial thing right – it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Often these kinds of films try to juggle too many tones and themes in a weird kind of balancing act that just makes things messy, but by concentrating on pure fun and good old fashioned entertainment, we end up with a really enjoyable ride of a film from start to finish. One of the highlights of this fun factor is the crazy, purposefully clichéd Vietnam vet played by Michael Ironside (he of Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall fame). This character is wonderfully off the rails and is definitely a few fries short of a Happy Meal, if you catch my drift. He probably has the best lines in the whole film too and you can tell he knows it.
There are plenty of jumps, scares and gross out moments throughout the film to keep things interesting and a there’s a relationship drama sub-plot that moves the film’s storyline along nicely without feeling forced or faked. The film’s special effects are particularly impressive… trippy visuals, spooky lighting and great creature effects really dazzle the eye and are a treat to watch. The conclusion of the film is surprisingly poignant and effective, without being too mushy or overly sentimental, which fits in with the rest of the film’s tone.
So… needless to say, I actually had a great time watching this film. It’s hard to find fault with this film because it aims to thrill and entertain and succeeds very well indeed.
3.5 / 5
EXTRATERRESTRIAL is directed by The Vicious Brothers and stars Brittany Allen, Freddie Stroma, Melanie Papalia, Jesse Moss, Gil Bellows, Michael Ironside, Anja Savcic, Emily Perkins and Sean Rogerson.