By Don Simpson | March 31, 2014
Director: Matty Beckerman
Writer: Robert Lewis
Starring: Katherine Sigismund, Corey Eid, Riley Polanski, Jillian Clare, Jeff Bowser, Peter Holden, Walter Phelan
If you find yourself questioning the possibility of usable footage being salvaged from a video camera that fell from an alien spaceship flying high up in the Earth’s atmosphere, you might as well just forget about watching Matty Beckerman’s Alien Abduction. Said camera once belonged to an autistic boy, Riley Morris (Riley Polanski), who studiously documented pretty much every single second of the Morris family’s vacation to Brown Mountain in North Carolina. Presumably Riley’s annoying affinity for experiencing everything via the viewfinder of his video camera is in some way related to his autism, but whether or not that is true can be left up to the medical experts to decide. Again, if you find yourself questioning the reasons why Riley never turns his camera off, no matter how mundane or dangerous the world is around him, then Alien Abduction is probably not for you. Sure, some of the footage looks like it was shot by Vilmos Zsigmond instead of a young autistic boy (the film was lensed by Luke Geissbuhler), but you might just need to suck up that over-analytic pride of your’s, sit back and enjoy the damn film.
On their first night camping near Brown Mountain, Riley and his older siblings — Corey (Corey Eid) and Jillian (Jillian Clare) — spot mysterious lights in the sky. The next morning, as their father (Peter Holden) drives the Morris clan to their next camping location, things get weird. The always reliable GPS goes on the fritz, leaving the family lost on the winding mountain roads as the gas gauge of their SUV inches closer and closer to empty. A dead crow crashes into their windshield; soon thereafter, they encounter a tunnel full of recently abandoned vehicles. Before they know it, they find themselves encroaching upon the land of a reclusive, shotgun-slinging survivalist (Jeff Bowser).
Being that Alien Abduction opens with Riley’s camera falling out of an alien spaceship, it should come as no surprise that Brown Mountain is a hotbed for alien activity (hence the Brown Mountain Lights). The Morris family encounters some dangerous Grey aliens, whose presence creates enough electromagnetic disturbances to distort their appearance on Riley’s video footage — a smart tactic to take whenever working with low budget CGI aliens.
Substituting monsters for Grey aliens, Alien Abduction functions more like a horror film than science fiction. The Morris family often falls into the standard horror film trope of protagonists making stupid decisions, which gets a bit ridiculous at times; but by utilizing the forced perspective of a single camera to its utmost advantage, Alien Abduction conjures up a hell of a lot of tension while sparingly utilizing special effects.