Posts Tagged ‘Sean Bardin’

Okay, let’s state right off the bat that another “found footage” alien abduction film is probably the last thing the world needs — but that’s hardly the fault of filmmakers Sean Bardin (co-director/screenwriter) and Robert Cooley (co-director), not least because their entry in this crowded field, Unaware, was lensed “way back” in 2010,  well before these things became ubiquitous. Admittedly, though, it sat around gathering dust until flicks of this nature were everywhere (2013, to be specific, when it was released on DVD), and like a lot of you, I’m sure, I gave it a pass at that point. Still, now that’s available for streaming on Amazon Prime, I figured, what the hell? It surely can’t be worse than The Phoenix Tapes ’97, can it?

As it turns out, though, it’s not only better than bottom-barrel dwellers than that, it can hold its own with Alien ValleyAlien Abduction, and any of the better residents of this heavily-populated cinematic suburb. In fact, it might even be the best of the bunch — that I’ve seen, at any rate.

Here’s the interesting wrinkle, though : it probably shouldn’t be. I mean, this flick looks really bad, even by “shaky-cam” standards. And the two lead (hell, for the most part only) actors can be a real chore to watch at times — in fact, I can sorta see why they chose to forego being credited and why you can’t even find any info about them anywhere on the internet. But you know what? If you’re gonna go for a “homemade” vibe, this is probably the way to do it, because the end result of all this intentional (to the point of sometimes feeling forced) amateurism is a film that really does come across as an assemblage of camcorder footage shot by “real” people. In short, it truly doesn’t get much more authentic than this.

Here, then, is the run-down : young(-ish) lovers Joe and Lisa decide to pay an impromptu (and unannounced) visit to the rural Texas home of Joe’s grandfather, and as it turns out they’re going to have some big news to announce because Joe pops the question — and Lisa accepts — on the way. But when they arrive, it seems that grandpa Roy and his wife, Betty, are gone for the weekend. Guess that’ll teach ’em to call ahead, right?

Well — maybe not, because they’re probably not going to live long enough to change their ways. First they hear weird noises coming from ol’ pappy’s work shed. Then they find some weird evidence out there that suggests that he was “on-site” at the infamous Roswell, New Mexico UFO crash in 1947. Then they find an even weirder crate. And then the shit hits the fan.

The alien starts out as a pretty creepy figure, I must admit, and when it’s suitably obscured, it gets the job done. When it’s revealed more fully, though, this film’s ultra-low budget immediately goes from being its greatest asset to a being a hell of a hindrance — but apart from that and some seriously dodgy acting (as in, reading straight from a cue-card) from a purported (and similarly uncredited) FBI agent who makes a brief appearance, I really can’t find a whole heck of a lot to complain about here. This film is tense, atmospheric, and smartly-constructed. Events occur in a natural and logical progression, lousy camera angles and characters falling out of frame at key points add to the sense of “reality,” dialogue and characterization both strike me as reasonable approximations of how actual people talk and act (Joe in particular is more than a bit of an asshole, but he’s the kind of asshole you meet a dozen times a day), and much of the lighting and sound design, especially, is surprisingly effective (and may even hint that Bardin and Cooley had a little bit more money to play with than the folks behind these sorts of productions usually do). It’s far from perfect, sure, but apart from those aforementioned gripes, its imperfections are all feathers in its cap. Bardin and Cooley get it more or less exactly right here, and if there are better examples of the “found footage” alien abduction sub-genre to be found, I must confess that I’m Unaware of them.