Extraterrestrial, the latest horror movie written, directed, and edited by Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz (who go under the moniker of The Vicious Brothers), is 106 minutes long. The reason why I’m pointing this out in the opening of my review is because that is about 15-20 minutes longer than the average “young people get murdered one-by-one” horror movie. It’s also less than half as interesting than the average horror movie of its type, and that means that this laughably bad movie is not even redeemed for being laughably bad because of its torturous length.
Stop me if you heard this one before: five college students decide to spend a weekend at a remote cabin that is owned by the parents of April (Brittany Allen, the only person in the movie that seems to know how to act). Her parents are recently divorced, so this will be the last time she will spend in her summer vacation cabin before it is sold. Her friends include longtime boyfriend Kyle (Freddie Stroma), her cousin Melanie (Melanie Papalia), and perhaps the most annoyingly fake character I’ve ever had the displeasure of seeing in a film, Seth (Jesse Moss). Seth is the type of obnoxious “movie teenager” that says “bitches” or something like that seemingly every other word and has a personality that is so grating that there’s no possible way anyone would ever be friends with him if he were a real person. The Vicious Brothers are in their twenties, so I am surprised they have created a character who talks exactly like what bad middle-aged screenwriters think young people talk like. I’m sure he’s supposed to be ultra-annoying so audiences will be glad when bad things happens to him, but he is just so unbearably irritating that it’s not even worth waiting for that.
Anyway, it isn’t long before the gang is confronted by Sheriff Murphy (Gil Bellows), who warns the kids not to cause any trouble because weird things have been happening in the area (including an otherworldly abduction that happens in the film’s opening sequence, which Murphy doesn’t seem to feel the need to call in higher authorities about). Naturally they begin partying like young folks do in horror movies in secluded cabins, but before long they witness a UFO crash and find themselves the targets of alien abductors.
The real kicker here is that the alien abductors look exactly like the “Visitor” aliens from the very first episode of South Park (and having also appeared in many more episodes thereafter). In fact, the working title of Extraterrestrial was The Visitors. The problem with this is that the design of the aliens is incredibly uncreative — they have the grey, dark-eyed alien visage that you’ve likely seen on dozens of cheap rubber horror masks. In fact, that sums up the problem with the whole movie: Extraterrestrial is one of the most uncreative horror movies I’ve seen in a while. There is absolutely nothing here that hasn’t been done before, and better. Why would a pair of directors utilize their resources to make a film that is nothing more than paint-by-numbers horror moviemaking? And then to take this “been there, done that” and stretch it over an hour and forty-five minutes… well, there is a reason why even the greatest film directors work with editors.
Like a lot of 1980s slasher films, Extraterrestrial also adopts a “morality play” angle regarding April’s opinion on marriage when she rejects Kyle’s marriage proposal. At one point, she tells Kyle that because of her parents’ divorce, “I don’t think I believe in the concept of marriage.” Although that line and the delivery are pretty terrible, it makes her character somewhat interesting instead of a typical horror movie blubbering bimbo who can’t protect herself. In fact, this is taken one step further when she is the only young character who is shown to know how to load and fire a shotgun. So, cheers for a strong female character, right? Well no actually, because as you can probably guess by the end of the movie her character does a complete 180 into a damsel in distress, so ultimately the message (if there is one) is that young women should never turn down marriage proposals because they need men to protect them, or something. Did one of The Vicious Brothers recently have his heart broken and wrote this as an act of revenge? It seems to be the only explanation why the only interesting character in the entire movie was completely gutted of anything interesting about her over the span of an hour.
My ultimate question is simply “What is this movie supposed to be?” It’s not scary enough to be considered a straight-up horror movie, and it’s not funny enough to be considered a comedy or even a parody. The line is so blurred that I simply can’t tell what’s supposed to be self-parody and what is actually poor filmmaking here. It falls back on every “young people get murdered one-by-one” horror movie cliche that you can think of, so it isn’t even surprising. Because I can’t even tell what this movie is supposed to be, I don’t even see teenagers with nothing else to do on a Friday night enjoying it.
With so many creative filmmakers in the horror genre emerging over the last decade, it’s perplexing to me that the Tribeca Film Festival selected Extraterrestrial to be part of its Midnight Section. I had thought that Tribeca hit rock bottom with last year’s Frankenstein’s Army, but Extraterrestrial is just as bad, and I seriously hope Tribeca rethinks its Midnight Section moving forward because showcasing this dreck is really hurting the section’s potential.
RATING: I don’t know how any serious fan of horror could enjoy this overlong, incredibly dull and uninspired movie (1.5/10).