Here's another unique gem of an independent film. With its shockingly unnatural quirks, Earthling will resonate with fans of David Cronenberg's early efforts such as The Brood and Scanners. Earthling is a horror movie with some meaning, not a profound, philosophical meaning, but enough to put the ghastliness in a context that makes it resonate.
Earthling is not a fast-paced blood-fest. Arty and pensive, the film plays out like a character study, interspersed with elements of horror. Featuring an alien possession theme familiar to fans of such thrillers as Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Night Of The Creeps, The Hidden, and Slither, Earthling takes a derivative idea and amps it up a notch, adding a degree of sophistication not seen in the aforementioned sci-fi entries. Earthling combines a multi-layered storyline, non-linear plot elements, touches of romance, lesbianism, and visceral sexual themes, with morbid body metamorphoses and grotesque, brain-inhabiting slugs, to produce a genuinely unique and offbeat viewing experience! In Earthling, Rebecca Spence plays Judith, a schoolteacher who begins having bizarre flashbacks and dreams about people she's never met, and events she's never lived. Worse, her body is changing -she's discovered a couple of gnarly growths on either side of her forehead, right at the hairline -she's becoming horny and not in a fun way! Judith doesn't understand what's happening to her, but several creepy people who introduce themselves seem to know quite a bit. The answer has something to do with her mother's death, a mysterious lake, and a comatose astronaut (Matt Socia) who was rescued from the orbiting space station after all hell broke loose up there. One of Judith's new acquaintances, a morose girl named Abby (Amelia Turner), likes to lure women to that enigmatic lake for gruesome littoral bait and switch encounters. The glade hides a repellent secret and after Judith's initial oddball brush with her, Abby's underground entourage of weirdo pals start turning up in unlikely places, triggering a twisted series of sick coincidences.
With touches of the 1972 Solaris (that dissertation-length Soviet movie about a planet with a living consciousness that begins to take cosmonauts under its influence, remade in 2002 with George Clooney), Earthling spans the gap between sociological exploration and outright icky sci-fi horror. Slimy aliens love to screw, and they like to screw humans, and it turns out, vice versa, but exactly who are the aliens and who are the earthlings? Is there truly so much difference between them and us, and does it really matter? What does it mean to be human, anyway? Judith is about to find out. As eerie repressed memories surface, what Judith discovers about herself, her new "friends," and her past is more than she'd like to know.
Judith pieces things together and the movie becomes a bit murky and disjointed. Is this an attempt on the part of the filmmakers to be arty, or does it help us understand her confusion, putting us in her perspective as she struggles to make sense of what's happening? I think the later, and as we go through Judith's experience with her, effective characterization and credible motivations draw us into Judith's nightmare and cause us to ponder. This is the best kind of story -the kind that makes you think. Earthling manages to stay a step ahead of us. Its twists and turns lead to an imaginative unraveling of reality with an ending that isn't predictable.
Even better, the horror of Earthling is the incipient sort, a mounting dread of losing control to something terrible and disgusting that's already deep inside and inescapable. Earthling is uncanny and unsettling because it's filmed like a drama, one that presents a deceptively reassuring, here-and-now sense of the cheery sunlit world around us, but at moments, that world distorts and reveals awful things. The contrast provides a subtle intensity which is delightfully disturbing. What is reality, and how much of it is subjectively determined by the way we conceive of ourselves? When Judith peels back her own mask and looks underneath, she -and we -discover the blood, veins, and mortality which we normally gloss over. The result is the type of revulsion that makes us squirm, the kind we can't get away from, because the horror is us.
Earthling isn't as momentous as 2001: A Space Odyssey, but like that imaginative, existential exploration, Earthling doesn't just hand us the concept; it requires the viewer to do some work, and upon the initial viewing, we carry away a general rather than a specific sense of what's transpired. Earthling's ideas are engaging and give us pause. If you found a planet populated by lifeforms whose personalities and values you really relate to, would you choose to go native? And if so, just how viscerally "native" would you be willing to go?
Review by Pamela De Graff from the Internet Movie Database.