The great thing about films about extraterrestrial life is that there is so much opportunity for coverage. And alien abduction films are a popular subgenre to tackle, but when it’s done right, it can really take off. IFC Midnight’s upcoming release of EJECTA takes its crack at that very subgenre.
In an interesting blend of found footage with narrative film, we get the story of William Cassidy (Julian Richings, CUBE, Orphan Black), a man that in person is quiet and subdued, but has a fierce online following due to his writings about his interactions with alien life. Having been abducted before, he’s supposedly had ongoing interaction with those from beyond our planetary reach. Joe Sullivan (Adam Seybold), a young documentarian has been trying to track down Cassidy for a while, when he’s emailed one night by him, inviting him to his home on a specific night. That night is supposed to be when a solar storm occurs, causing all sorts of interesting things in the sky, causing issues with satellite signals and whatnot, so Sullivan jumps at the chance to meet up with Cassidy. Sadly, the craziness doesn’t just stick to the sky, creating havoc on the ground as well.
With government agencies involved, we get to see from the helmet cams of soldiers, track down Cassidy as they are trying to figure out how he’s involved with the aliens. What follows is a bunch of interrogation, good cop/bad cop play, and general intimidation, as they try to get the answers they want. Lisa Houle (PONTYPOOL) plays Dr. Tobin, the head person interrogating Cassidy, and she’s ruthless and despicable. As a villain, she is everything you want, causing the audience to despise her and wish death upon her.
The found footage pieces of the film add to the story in some parts, but detract in others, as things get extremely disorienting, making you feel lost in the moment. And rather than that adding to the tension, it takes away from the horror you should be feeling at the time. The narrative portions are strong for the most part, most notably when Houle is on screen, as she commands it.
The effects, while minimal, are handled well, but had more of them been handled during the narrative portions of the film, I think they would have got more bang for their buck. But one thing they do well with, is by keeping the alien lifeforms mostly off screen, just little teases throughout.
My biggest beef with the film was the overall lack of caring for the lead characters. Cassidy had an interesting story, and Richings played him well, but despite that, I still didn’t feel much while he was being tortured. By maybe adding a little more depth to him, beyond just being a hermit, online crier of truth, I may have bought into it more. And Sullivan, while played as sweet, was mostly just superficial, merely a vessel for the camera into Cassidy’s story.
If you are in the mood for a dark, alien abduction film, then you can find a lot worse films. EJECTA was really close to knocking it out of the park, but by padding out those characters a little more, I think it would be one of those films that people talk about for years to come.
EJECTA is being released by IFC Midnight on February 27th, 2015.