If you had told me that someone basically made a feature length film adaptation of the final installment of V/H/S 2, the last thing I would probably say is “that sounds great!”
I can admit when I’m wrong.
Quick Plot: A family of five embarks upon an unassuming camping trip through rural North Carolina, an area apparently known for its mysterious Brown Mountain Lights phenomenon that some have suspected may be caused by something not of this world. When they take a wrong turn and come upon a pileup of abandoned vehicles, they realize that they just may have stumbled on some extraterrestrial hunting grounds.
Let's start by acknowledging that Alien Abduction makes one of the best decisions I've ever seen in justifying its found footage approach. Riley, the youngest child, is autistic and, as his sister explains to the first stranger they meet, relies on seeing things through his video camera. It's a brilliant choice that pre-answers the question we always ask in this genre.
Thankfully, that isn't the only good trick up director Matty Beckerman's sleeve. Initially, I was far from pleased to have a bland, somewhat bickering all-American family of unimpressive people as my leads, but the film manages to deepen most of them simply by how they react to the jarring experience of, well, running away from aliens. Oldest son Corey doesn't necessarily register in the film's first half as anyone of interest, but once he loses an important member of his family, his reaction to it is sad, admirable, and believable.
Similarly, the introduction of an off-the-grid mountain man named Shawn first reads as a typical foray into modern horror's impressions of redneck America at its most obvious. Thankfully, that's not the case. Shawn may live in a cabin in the woods and carry a shotgun, but he quickly shows he's far smarter than the immediate impression given off by his accent and trucker hat.
In barely 85 minutes, Beckerman managed to do quite a bit. Perhaps most importantly, Alien Abduction packs a few actual scares. The design of the creatures, filled with odd clicks and buzzes, isn’t the most revolutionary, but it’s effective and eerie. The filming style feels real and not TOO nausea-inducing, and the complete lack of information or explanation about what these things are or want adds to the terror our characters have of not knowing what to do. It’s exactly what a low budget found footage horror movie should be.
As noted above, there are a lot of things that work about Alien Abduction, but I think what really sells the bulk of it is how the film realizes that lack of explanation is a scary, scary thing
I've said it before and I will say IT LOUDER SO THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK CAN HEAR ME: DO NOT EVER INCLUDE A CLOSEUP OF A CATERPILLAR IN YOUR MOVIE.
If the 2016 presidential election hadn’t already established this, I’ll just go ahead and say it: North Carolina may be the beginning of the end
My expectations were on the low end for Alien Abduction, so it’s certainly possible that I was just thrilled to get more than I anticipated. But hey, that doesn’t mean I didn’t genuinely enjoy this. The film is streaming on Netflix and should effectively scratch any alien/horror/found footage itch you might need a solution for.