Found-footage films thrive on reconstituting fear and memory, and most operate under the misguided assumption that they can’t scare us the same way twice. Matty Beckerman’s Alien Abduction immediately hooks us with a premise that’s novel enough for the genre, if not YouTube, retracing the presumably ill-fated steps that led to a camera taking a nosedive from the confines of an alien spacecraft and toward planet Earth. But once the filmmakers hit rewind on their main character’s miraculously surviving found footage, a familiar slog is revealed. The story, inspired by the mysterious lights that have appeared in the skies above North Carolina’s Brown Mountain for hundreds of years, follows the Morris family’s betrayal by their GPS and the series of unfortunate events kicked into motion after their Zach Galifianakis-like paterfamilias stupidly investigates a graveyard of cars in the middle of the woods. A few jolting scares are deployed throughout, most notably a sustained pummeling given to the Morris clan’s minivan by a bunch of dead crows, but more difficult to shake is how the story’s overacting lambs walk a rather programmatic path toward slaughter—or at least anal probing. Call it cunning or cheating that informs the decision to largely conceal the aliens via the low-res found-footage image that picks up little light once night sets in, but it’s nothing but distasteful to silently rationalize away the camera’s perpetual rolling by attributing it to just another obsessive and repetitive symptom of the young in-film cinematographer’s autism spectrum disorder.
- IFC Midnight
- 85 min
- Matty Beckerman
- Robert Lewis
- Katherine Sigismund, Corey Eid, Riley Polanski, Jillian Clare, Jeff Bowser, Peter Holden, Walter Phelan, Jordan Turchin, Kelley Hinman, Ben Sharples
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