UFO hunter Emma Wright is a believer and a fraud. After a daring interview with professional skeptic Joel Hooper brings her close to admitting that her alien abduction memoirs are pure invention, an obsessive fan, Kass Burroughs, comes to her with a compelling mystery, one that gives her a new reason to believe, and to lie. Before long, Wright and Burroughs discover a deadly secret protected by a small town's UFO cult -- a secret that lies in the skeptical Hooper's past, and which could destroy his future. It's up to Wright and Hooper to battle the UFO cult and reveal the truth, about the town and each other, before it's too late.
Directed by: James Treakle
. Starring: Naphatia St Pierre
, Ransom Pugh
, Abigail White
, Kristine Renee Farley
, Jeff Angel
, Tony Bartele
, Holly Benedict
, Edward Haynes Jr.
, Sarah Hoback
, Derek Kunzman
, Markus Porter
, Stephen Smith
, Willaine St. Pierre-Sandy
. Music by: James Treakle
I think that overall there is potential in what the writer(s)director is trying to say. There is a hint that the writer wanted to explore how when we lie about our past it can come to torment us the more we deny it and accepting and letting o of it can set us free.
Something along those lines and it is explored to some small degree with Joel, the most interesting of all the characters in the film. Honestly, I could of really done without the other characters, they weren't interesting. He seemed to have a journey of sorts on an emotional level, the other characters not so much, they are there really to just move the story forward.
Visually there were some nice enough looking shots and use of colour. The music wasn't too bad either. The big let down is the script. It lacks three main things: clarity, essential context and scenes where we the audience can experience what the characters went through to empathise the state they are in.
1. Clarity: All through the film (and by the way I watched this twice just to be sure) it wasn't clear to me why Joel, why Emma or Kass want what they want, why it means so much to them.
What is at stake if they don't achieve their goal? Which is something to do with getting to where the signal was? Maybe? Stopping the abductees? What do they stand to lose? In the end, the abductees go missing and Joel's father is abducted again...so...what does that mean for the characters? I don't know, because at the end prologue Kass goes her separate way, Emma and Joel stay in the town to uncover more, but it's like all that happened at the alien location didn't seem to have any weight to the characters.
For Emma, Kass and Joel I'm not really tracking on a goal, I know that she went to that facility to find the where abouts of the alien signal but...then what, what is she ultimately trying to achieve? To prove aliens exist? Joel seems like a very reactive character due to him denying his past, so overall its hard to stay invested.
I get that Joel was abducted and his parents let him be abducted, but what then is he trying to achieve by going to the abduction site. This is why compelling conflict in any movie is so helpful, it's an organic way to deliver essential context, one of them being what the characters goal is, why? Stakes etc. When they are up against opposition.... We are compelled to watch to see if their stakes come to pass if they fail their goal and at the same time we understand what they want and why and why it matters.
If there is any hope of the audience getting invested in the character(s) its vital its really clear what they want, why they want it and whats; at stake if they don't get it. Clarity means we can understand the motivations of the characters.
2. Essential context: if we can then experience why it means so much on an emotional level, then we can empathise with them and you have us on board in a big way. But not here as all this is missing. The problem with Joel is he sort of wanders around bumping into situation after situation, never facing opposition enough so as to understand what it is he is after. Now, I did notice there was one main conflict scene with Joel and the other abductees in an apartment. But even here there is so much missing essential context. What do they want from joel? I watched that scene 5times, it is in no way clear what specifically they need from Joel, why do they need him? For what? What's at stake if they don't get what they want. So as a result of all this essential context I have no understanding all through the film why all of this matters. It simply lacks any strong story structure.
3. Scenes where we the audience can experience what the characters went through to empathise the state they are in and the choices they make: Well that pretty much says it there, there isn't enough scenes of what the character went through to fully empathise and understand their situation. What I mean is we need select moments that led up to the moment these people made this choice to go find this signal in way where we can really empathise why it's so important to them. Delve into Emma's lies about her abductions and how that has really effected her emotionally and mentally to feel.... FEEL, not just intellectually understand why it means so much to her and that goes for the rest of the characters too, because honestly I have no idea why this means anything to any of them..because Kass found alien contact and the film needs to progress now. Had we of experienced the abandonment of Joel's parents so they could see the universe and was experimented on would of gone a long way, though the budget I know would not of been there, but it's essential for us to empathise with him and not just sympathise with him. Honestly I think a simpler plot that could provide and experience like this would of worked much better IMO.
The other way this film is a let down is a number of times the plot stops to have big exposition dumps. Now in some movies its tolerable because it quickly gets back to engaging scenes that deliver clear context that advances the plot, here its pretty much constantly people telling other people information, lack of conflict or an element of mystery to keep us hooked in that way, something unexpected.
All in all there is potential here but lacking a lot of essential context and understanding the importance of why all this matters.
And one final note, maybe don't put in the description of the film on YouTube that this is ".. a cult classic in the making, with a thrilling story, larger-than-life characters, and the most ambitious production values for a $3000 indie film since El Mariachi. " It comes off as arrogant, and you seem like a nice guy. If it becomes a cult classic, cool. Let the audience decide that, don't count your chickens before they hatch, man :) best.
Review by richardadesmond from the Internet Movie Database.