Is it October again already? I guess it is, and you know what that means for this (and, frankly, more or less every other) film review blog — it’s time to talk horror movies all month in preparation for Halloween.
Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, as evidenced by the fact that I seem to do it year in and year out, but this year, rather than blindly selecting any old movie just because it fits a particular genre theme, I thought I’d narrow things down a bit and only review stuff that’s currently available in the Netflix instant streaming queue. I’m sure I’ll have cause to mix things up a bit and look at a small handful of other horror flicks, either currently playing theatrically or on DVD, but by and large I thought it would help give things some focus if I just limited the pool of possibilities a little bit. I trust you won’t mind indulging me when I do veer off my self-prescribed course (and gosh, I wouldn’t want to forget about doing the occasional comic review, would I?), but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, let’s play this out until I get bored and see where it all goes, shall we?
A few ground rules — I won’t be bothering with any technical specs such as you’ll commonly find in reviews of DVDs and Blu-rays, I’ll be trying my best to look at somewhat less “mainstream” horror titles, and when I can, I’ll try to contian my penchant for droning on and on and (hopefully) keep these fairly short and sweet.
Or, failing that, at least short. So let’s get started, shall we?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a tremendous fan of The Asylum — as a general rule, even for what it is they do (cheap Z-grade straight-to-video “found footage” horrors and “mockbusters” being their specialties) I find that, by and large, they don’t do it very well. I usually go into their productions with abysmally low expectations and, more often than not, they struggle to meet even those. I get that they have their fans and all — shit, I guess everyone does — but they’re just not my cup of tea.
Still, even the worst production houses have a nadir, a rock-bottom, an absolute worst offering from a very bad lot, and 2012’s shot-in-Belize effort Alien Origin just might be the lowest of the low from the “studio” that also gave us awful-and-not-in-a-good-way numbers like Transmorphers and Battle Of Los Angeles. To say this thing is completely devoid of anything that even smells like a redeeming quality is probably being too kind. It’s just shit, pure and simple.
Furthermore, it doesn’t even spend so much as a moment trying to convince itself — much less anyone who might be unfortunate enough to be watching it — that it’s anything but shit. Writer/director Mark Atkins is all about knocking off at 5:00 and getting to the bar, by the look of things, and if there’s one consistent “vibe” given off by the proceedings here, it’s that no one really gives a flying fuck about what they’re doing.
I might give something of a pass to the film’s nominal “star,” Chelsea Vincent, who plays Julia Evans, a reporter ensconced (I guess in the days of Gulf War I and II we would call her “embedded”) with the special forces branch of Belize’s army as they undertake a search for some missing anthropologists who apparently found some mysterious alien artifacts of some sort before disappearing altogether, but it’s not like she’s terribly competent or anything — she’s just less incompetent than the locals they found laying around on the beach who they used to fill the other roles.
Anyway, her camera’s rolling throughout, as you’ve no doubt already guessed, and she’s “documenting” the mission when things suddenly get purportedly dangerous and creepy. Not that you’re likely to feel overly endangered or creeped out or anything of the sort. Hell, if you’ve got any sense you’ll turn this thing off at about the 15-minute mark and find something better to do with your time — might I suggest watching the flagpole rust or your toenails grow?
Either would be more involving than this snooze-fest, which can’t bother to register any sort of a pulse even when we finally get the the meat of the matter and learn about the monsters from outer space who have been here for a long time and may have played a hand in the devleeopment and evolution of mankind out of the primordial soup that, to be perfectly candid, we probably would have opted to stay in if we’d known that centuries down the line one of our ranks would come up with anything as insipid and worthless as Alien Origin.
About the only thing worth paying attention to at this point are the numerous creative cop-outs that Atkins employs in order to never actually have to show us our evil alien overlords, but even that little play-along-at-home game isn’t nearly enough to grab your interest for long. If you’re still awake by the time anything actually happens in this flick, you’ll be praying for nothing so much as a speedy resolution so that the cinematic endurance test you’ve subjected yourself to can finally, mercifully, come to an end.
The rest of the movies we look at this month can only get better from here on out, right?