Directors/Screenplay – The Vicious Brothers [Colin Minihan & Stuart Ortiz], Producers – Shawn Angelski & Martin Fisher, Photography – Samy Inayeh, Music – Blitz/Berlin, Visual Effects – Waterproof Studios LP (Supervisor – Ian Fenton), Special Effects Supervisor – John Sleep, Makeup Effects Design – SFX Studio Inc (Designer – Joel Echallier), Production Design – Scott Moulton. Production Company – Abduction Films/Manis Film/Vicarious Entertainment/Twin Engine Films/Pink Buffalo Films.
Brittany Allen (April), Freddie Stroma (Kyle), Gil Bellows (Sheriff Murphy), Michael Ironside (Travis), Jesse Moss (Seth), Melanie Papalia (Melanie), Anja Savcic (Lex), Emily Perkins (Nancy McPherson), Sean Rogerson (Deputy Mitchell), Mike Kovac (Clerk)
April is planning to go up to her family cabin at Echo Lake with her boyfriend Kyle to clean up before the place is sold. She is not happy when he invites three of their friends along for the trip. Unknown to him, she was planning to tell him that she is taking a job on the other side of the country. At the same time, unknown to her, he was planning to propose. That night, they see a fireball come down nearby and rush to the site to find a crashed UFO. The alien from the UFO appears outside the cabin and they shoot it in a panic. They then find themselves hunted and abducted by extraterrestrials.
The Vicious Brothers are two unrelated Canadian friends, Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz. The two had a moderate success with their Found Footage ghost story Grave Encounters (2011), as well as their writing the sequel Grave Encounters 2 (2012) for a different director. Extraterrestrial – not to be confused with Nacho Vigalondo’s comedic Extraterrestrial (2011) – was their second directorial outing. Oddly, the finished film comes with no director credit – the IMDB insists that this is Colin Minihan alone but the opening of the film states that it is ‘A Vicious Brothers Film’ and so one must presume that it comes as by the two of them. Colin Minihan subsequently went on to make the zombie film It Stains the Sand Red (2016) and the psycho film What Keeps You Alive (2018).
It is clear that the success of Grave Encounters has afforded the Vicious Brothers a much better budget, which is evident in the level of production polish, the employment of some name Canadian actors (Gil Bellows, Michael Ironside, Emily Perkins) in supporting roles and particularly when it comes to the visual and creature effects. Extraterrestrial is not a Found Footage film, although some handheld camera point-of-view shots do creep in.
I felt fairly indifferent about Grave Encounters and thought that it did very little of originality with the ghost story theme (the sequel is actually a far better film). Here The Vicious Brothers produce a couple of jumps with E.T.’s appearing outside the cabin but most of the appearances are visual cliches of flashing lights, frenzied editing and blurred handheld camerawork. Whenever something seems about to happen, you end up wishing that the film would cut this out and actually get on and do something interesting. The great failing is that this is all The Vicious Brothers appear to have in their arsenal.
The disappointment of Extraterrestrial is that it is no more than a standard cabin in the woods scenario, which has been a staple of the genre ever since The Evil Dead (1981) – group of teenagers/twentysomethings go to a remote cabin, stir up/encounter something monstrous and are progressively picked off as they try to fight against it. Indeed, what happens is so generic that you are certain that the set-up could easily have acted as one of the scenarios that was parodied in The Cabin in the Woods (2012).
The great disappointment of the film is that it fails to do anything with the UFO/alien abduction set-up – all that happens is we get the teenagers at the cabin where the E.T.’s amount to nothing more than a standard monster lurking around and eliminating them. Indeed, there is a remarkable degree of similarity to Eduardo Sanchez’s Bigfoot film Exists (2014) that came out around the same time – both films feature generic set-ups where it is not hard to imagine the two menaces being interchangeable. In terms of any ideas – like exploring what the aliens are, where they come from – the film singularly fails to engage and does nothing more than churn cliches. This is especially evident at the ending, which tosses up what is surely the UFO conspiracy theory equivalent of the ending of Night of the Living Dead (1968).