On the oddly specific date of October 13, 1987, Seth Hampton frantically arrives at the home of his friend Mark with a story of their friend Rob being abducted by aliens. Understandably Mark and his out-of-his-league wife Jen are skeptical.
There is a lot to like about this movie, but also some minor irritations that arise almost immediately. Either writer Joe Begos or actor Graham Skipper have made the rookie mistake of thinking that constantly saying “fuck” is interesting or intense or edgy or funny or real. In fact, it is exponentially more boring each time it is used (unless it is on The Sopranos). Of course, Martin Scorsese is still making this mistake, so it isn’t purely rookie. In his case, it seems more like an old man giggling at his own naughtiness when his nurse isn’t looking.
Also, Mark has a manly-man beard that is so obviously fake that it must be real. Begos proves himself a good enough director that he would not have allowed his make-up person to get away with this beard job.
Seth excitedly tells them about the abduction when suddenly the lights go out, and there are crazy ear-piercing sounds. Mark goes outside, is hit by a beam of light a la Travis Walton and abducted.
Two years later, on the day Seth wakes up with a nosebleed, hunters find Mark nekkid in the woods. Begos smartly skips this two year stretch, only cutting into the opening credits with a few news reports.
One of the hunters nudges Mark with the rifle, and he springs to life. After letting out a Godzilla-like scream, he kills both of them and steals their clothes — this despite one of them being a bro in the manly-man beard club. Begos again shows his skill, having Mark then do something mostly off camera. Only later do we know what the growl and the hunter’s shaking foot signifies. Good stuff
Mark walks into gas station, knifes a gas-pumper, shoots the clerk — both really well executed; so to speak. He throws the one that still has a head in the back of the gas-pumper’s truck and heads to his old house.
At the ol’ homestead he sees the circular still-charred patch of grass where he was abducted. Good times. He peeks in a window and sees a woman vacuuming. The phone is ringing, but is almost inaudible under the noise of the vacuum. So when the woman picks it up, it seems like it is in response to Mark cutting the phone line — I had to rewind a couple of times to get what was happening.
The current man o’ the house, another member of the manly-man beard fraternity, is chainsawing some logs. Mark shoots him and finishes him off with a beautiful axe to the head. His wife screams, runs back indoors, and we get a short, nicely choreographed chase involving the house, the car, and a slashing.
Mark lines his victims up in the cellar and and impregnates them by giving the growl, shooting a tube from his mouth to the victim’s mouth, and passing an eggy lump through the tube.
He then goes to Jen’s new house and, in a great switcheroo, her fiance Clyde kicks Mark’s ass. However, this is Mark’s story, so he does his growl, disables the guy, and breaks his neck. Clyde has one of those pencil-thin strings of beard with no mustache, so really this can’t be much of a loss. There’s a reason no one ever wrote a song about a pencil-thin beard.
The story is pretty well set up at this point and follows Mark as he pursues Jen. She and Seth both put up a good fight.
I was shocked by how well done this movie was. The score was great, with simple but effective stingers. The kills were well-done. And the acting was about as good as you can expect from a small production.
If I had to make a criticism, it would be the portrayal of Mark. Josh Ethier just did not impart a sense of “otherness”. While he didn’t come off as a regular garden variety serial killer, there really was nothing to suggest a possession or alien influence. Maybe it was the beard — In the history of movies, has there ever been an alien with a beard?
I rate it 75 minutes out of 79 minutes.
- IMDb says this takes place in Derry, Maine, site of many Stephen King stories. Derry gets a mention, but the action seems to be in Patten, Maine (a real city unlike the fictional Derry).
- I am not a fan of after-credits scenes. What is going on? Is that Rob?
- Other goodness not mentioned above: Podpeople, and a hacksaw.
- The reveal of the last kill actually got a verbal “Oh shit” from me, it was so well done. Just to be non-spoilery clear — the last kill / impregnation made by a possessed human.