From Grave Encounters to close encounters, the Vicious Brothers’ new film Extraterrestrial will be released on 29th October, just in time for Halloween. But is it scary? Does it measure up to the immeasurable Grave Encounters? I went along to the preview screening and Q&A with the writer/directors, the Vicious Brothers (Stuart Ortiz & Colin Minnihan), to find out for myself.
Opening with a condom-shaped constellation and a totally unnecessary ass-shot, the film gives the immediate sense of being tongue-in-cheek and a bit fun. Anyone who has seen the previous work of the Vicious Brothers will be preparing themselves at this stage, and trying not to get too comfortable with the comedy for fear of what comes next. However, as the story progressed and the lead characters were introduced, it was like I was watching a parody that was going on too long. I was waiting for a punchline and it just wasn’t coming
Sadly, the big reveal turns out to be that – uh-oh – there are aliens in the woods. When you go into a movie called Extraterrestrial with an enormous alien on the poster, it kind of takes some of the wow factor away from such a revelation.
Michael Ironside’s performance as the pot-head conspiracy theorist stands out, which isn't surprising as a veteran of the genre. His mad eyes and unique voice are perhaps the most convincing thing in an otherwise clichéd film. During the Q&A with the directors, they discussed how they had attempted to bring together a delicate balance of the tongue-in-cheek and the seriously scary. Sadly - and, as a huge Vicious Brothers fan, it does break my heart to say this - they missed the mark. The balance leaned far more toward the comedic without actually committing to the parody genre.
There were some fond nods to the sci-fi/horror genre. For example, the X-Files smoking man parody (apparently they had considered casting the actual smoking man, but held off for fear of being sued); and a very graphic anal probing scene, ass-crack, bird’s-eye and all.
I can see where they were going with it, the teen-slasher meets sci-fi feel, the idea of the tongue-in-cheek turned horror, similar to Grave Encounters, but I feel it just didn’t cut it. It wound up dragging, the story (what there was of one, anyway) was hard to get into, and the hammed up cheesiness of the whole thing went too far, to the point where I wasn’t sure if they were serious or not. If it hadn’t been for the Q&A afterwards, I wouldn’t have known that the cheese factor was a purposeful attribute. It didn’t work. Although there are a lot of unnecessarily sexy shots, so if you feel like peeping, maybe this film is for you.
The final scene was mind-blowingly well shot, and as it turns out, a result of four shots being stitched together. The budget on the scene was so low that the extras used are actually the same ones repeated in each of the four shots, and the result is glorious. Sadly, this one piece of excellent direction was not enough to make up for the lack of storyline, the insistent cheese-factor, the yawn-inducing characters, and those loose ends (so, was the Sheriff’s wife abducted or not?). Every opportunity there was to make this film great was missed. Overall, after the genius that was Grave Encounters, Extraterrestrial is seriously disappointing.