and find the wreckage and use that as their film project. Quickly, this film turns into what The Blair Witch Project ultimately is, including camping in the woods - I still will never do this, thank you scary movies. David, what were your first thoughts on this movie?
David: I really liked the original set up. Having the teens doing a documentary of a zoo is a little hokey, and not really well explained, but I like the idea of a found footage alien film. A while back, there was a movie with Milla Jovovich called The Fourth Kind. A lot of people didn’t like it, but I loved pieces of it because it was positively terrifying.
I think the visceral feel of found footage is perfect for this plot, because all the first hand accounts of UFO sightings are intense. So I want to give kudos to Grieco for recognizing that and using it to play into the intensity of the film. I really think that the pacing of the moving was good, and different. As usual when we review films that aren’t from the American continent, I find myself wondering if some of the small, subtle changes that I see are just a culture difference. Some film cultures, like Indian films (Bollywood!) and Japanese horror or “J-horror”, I’m a bit more familiar with, so I’ve started to pick up the cultural differences. But this one was based out of Germany, and I’m not sure.
The pacing that I’m referring to in my previous rambling paragraph is simply that the pauses leading up to the intense moments seem to be paced just a bit longer than American movies. This leads to some really intense, spine-tingling scare moments, because you feel like you’re sitting on a razor’s edge waiting for something to happen, jump scare or otherwise.
Shannon, did you notice the extra length in these pauses? Or was it just me? Also, what did you think of the setting itself?
Shannon: Honestly, I did not notice these pauses. Thinking back on it, I still don’t think I noticed that big of a difference between this German film and those from the U.S. If you say that there is a difference, I believe you. It makes sense that there would be different film styles from different countries. As for the setting itself, I thought it was good. To me, I felt like it was obvious that the “forest” they were in was small. I felt like in most of the shots I could literally see the end of the the trees - but this didn’t take away anything from the movie. I just had a hard time believing that they were “lost in the woods.” What did you think about the house they found? There was just a random house at the edge of the woods? For me, I kind of liked that not all the scenes were in the woods, so this house was a nice change.
I know that you love the found footage type films, and yes they do have the ability to make it more intense for a horror film, but it just makes me sick. Having to read the subtitles did help me a little bit, but it was still pretty bad for me to watch in that sense.
I personally liked the beginning scene at the zoo. Not because I felt like it added to the movie, but because when those monkeys started screaming, my adorable pup stared at the TV and did the super cute head tilt. Made me smile. To change the subject again, I know we didn’t see much of it, but what did you think about the Alien itself?
David: Well I’m glad you brought up the forest and the farm. Because it seems like (and was referred to in the manner of) the house they found was a farm. It had a barn, after all, where the climax took place. I thought it was really cool because it subverted the expectations that you have. I mean, I know Blair Witch ended in a building as well, but that was a broken down shack in the woods. This was an actual house, with a home that people were in.
I do think that the filmmakers missed a chance with this farm to have our protagonists truly think they are about to be saved before the aliens snatch away freedom by killing the farmer or whoever was there. It would have been a nice tension reliever, followed by a plot mover. We could have seen how our teens react when they see this. One thing I didn’t really understand was their complete ineptitude towards fighting. I understand they stabbed the thing with a knife in the cave, and it had acid blood (come on now… complete copy of Alien and I’m very sad about that - there are other types of blood something can have than acid). My problem is just you continually see things in the house that they could use as weapons, and instead they focus purely on running away.
This may be more of an issue of budget and effects ability than actual plot. I know that effects are really expensive, but it would have been helpful to see more of the creature towards the end in order to continue being afraid. That’s part of the fun of movies like this: you eventually get to see what has been causing all the destruction and you can make your own conclusions about whether or not the people could have done more. This leads into your question about the Alien itself. I wasn’t a super fan, and part of it was the hazy way that it was filmed. I thought it was really creative when they went into the cave to make a comment about the humidity messing with the lens, but it wasn’t fully used. You can’t really see the creature at all, throughout the whole movie! It made me really confused as to what we were dealing with. I think you need to do one or the other with this type of thing: tease the monster and eventually show it, or don’t show any of the monster and attribute it to the fact that our clumsy human brains can’t handle seeing it (like The Fourth Kind).
Despite the fact that the opening in the zoo was a bit hokey, I did enjoy the idea behind having the animals go crazy. I wish we could have seen (or at least heard) more animals though. What did you think of all the actors in the movie Shannon?
Shannon: This is kind of a hard question for me to answer. The characters themselves annoyed me, just like the characters did in Blair Witch Project. I’m assuming that their personalities in the movie were suppose to be just that: the scared girl, the guy who wants to film at all costs, the girl that complains, etc. And though these personalities annoyed me, I think that the fact that they did tells us how the actors performed. So basically, I think they did a good job.
To touch on what you said about their time in the house: there was a part where the farmers obviously tried to burn the alien, obviously stabbing it didn’t help, and after all of this I just think that the characters thought they had no way to fight the alien and running was their best option. I agree with you about the screen time that the Alien gets. You see parts of it, but never the whole picture. I think it would have been better to either see nothing or everything. I know that in the newest Blair Witch movie they end up showing us the witch, but do they show us the witch in The Blair Witch Project? I never finished the movie because I was getting so nauseous and am curious. (David says no). Not to get off topic some more - but I have another question about Blair Witch: was that house even real? (David’s thoughts: when you have a movie about an immortal ghost witch, the concept of real and unreal tends to be a little hazy. Answer - it probably exists in some planes of reality that you can only find when you have been in the woods a certain amount of time, or something to that effect - if you want to logically rationalize it).
As for UFO, I think it had just enough scare factor for me. Towards the end it got less scary, which is kind of sad really, but building up to the climax had me on the edge of my seat. This is the reason I think not seeing the Alien at all would have been best in my opinion (but that’s just the best way to “scare” me when watching a horror film). David, is there anything else you would like to talk about?
David: Not in particular - you mentioned previously the movie making you sick. I will have to say that this is by far the shakiest movie I’ve ever watched - and I’ve watched a lot (seriously, a lot) of found footage films. They don’t normally bother me, but by the end I got a headache. If this was cut down a bit, or if we could have just consistently kept the subjects in focus, it would have made the movie much better.
Overall for me, UFO was a decent film but left a lot on the floor that could have improved it greatly. I think that means for me I can only go with a “C+”. What about you Shannon?
Shannon: I’m going to give it an “okay” rating from me. I liked the concept of the film with the downed UFO/Killer Alien in the middle of the woods. But yeah, there was room for improvement. Like you said before, it could have been budget, and if that’s the case I thought they did a great job with the story itself and using the scare factor for the audience. It was a good horror film for sure.
Thanks again to Kay Bühler of Kinowelt Television for suggesting that we watch and review this movie, it was a fun experience and I’m glad that we got the opportunity. Thanks for reading!!
David and Shannon write about movies.