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ALIEN STRAIN: Film Review

Synopsis:
Matthew and his girlfriend Rachel take a romantic camping trip to an area of desolate woods. As the night gets darker, it takes a strange turn as Rachel completely disappears. With no explainable answer only than alien abduction and barely any clues, Matthew desperately searches on for her, whilst being followed by an accusing Sheriff. Years pass and Matthew is now resident in a mental institution where they constantly press him for rational memories, but all he remembers are extraterrestrial happenings.

This psychological sci-fi horror drags us along with Matthew’s journey as he battles his own mind between reality and fiction, not knowing whether his girlfriend Rachel was genuinely abducted by another species or if the doctor’s version about her having a terminal illness is the heartbreaking truth. It’s clear that Matthew is having some disturbingly lucid flashbacks from ongoing traumatic events, but with him being committed to Briarview Mental Institution the distinction between what actually happened and what he thinks happened becomes quite disorientated and a little hard to follow.

Watching Matthew’s broken and beaten demeanor tirelessly hunt for Rachel pulled me into the belief that not only was he ravaged by her abrupt departure but his ramblings about bizarre events only explained by dominant aliens were accurate. Michael Finn’s performance of Matthew is most likely one of the reasons that makes this film able to keep a grip on the audience, as the plot certainly lags at various points. Finn displays an appropriate amount of the emotions exhibited whilst going through grief, although it isn’t quite grief as there’s a niggling chance Rachel could still be alive. However, once we’re past the first half where he details the pursuit, everything becomes fairly perplexing – even to Matthew himself.

As we proceed past the frantic search, we learn that much to Mathew’s delight and horror, his soul mate has returned to him, but it isn’t quite the fairytale ending everyone was hoping for. As the flashbacks intensify it becomes increasingly difficult to follow the plot as the audience is never really given any clue to whether or not we’re viewing events that occurred or just skewed memories that are laced with PTSD hallucinations. Eventually the plot does slowly unravel into what was quite a predictable yet grossly satisfying comeuppance that doesn’t fully dispel Matthew being seriously fucked up but confirms the existence of body mutating beings.

Dependent on how you prefer your storytelling narrative structure, you’re either going to think the flashbacks are ingenious or just damn confusing to try to piece together. It definitely helps in adding that viewing atmosphere of feeling like you’re going mad alongside Matthew, but sometimes it’s too much and all you want it just a scene that makes sense. For me, it functioned well in certain places but as the onslaught of them becomes more and more erratic, the whole thing is a struggle to follow, leaving me a little lost with it all. I’ve seen worse and I’ve seen better, but there’s no way it could be classified as anything other than a cult film. Alien Strain contains consistently clever and thrilling segments, but the presentation of this flounders leaving a trail of disappointment. You’ll either loathe or adore this film, but it’s definitely worth finding out.

ALIEN STRAIN: Film Review Synopsis: Matthew and his girlfriend Rachel take a romantic camping trip to an area of desolate woods. As the night gets darker, it takes a strange turn as Rachel

ALIEN STRAIN (2014)

ALIEN STRAIN (2014)
Written and directed by Robert Benavides Jr. and Andy Palmer

After an argument during a camping trip in the desert, Matthew’s girlfriend Rachel disappears into thin air. Convinced that she’s been abducted by aliens, Matthew revisits the spot every day looking for his lost love. With the sheriff suspicious of his involvement in the disappearance of Rachel, Matthew is desperate to prove his innocence and for others to join the investigation of her disappearance.

Years later, Matthew is a patient of Briarview Mental Institution and is forced to face his past and Rachel’s disappearance as he recounts his experience and reveals his hidden memories in sessions with Dr. Charles Stewart but is his mind as reliable as he thinks?

ALIEN STRAIN is a sci-fi horror thriller seen through the eyes of a distraught boyfriend who can’t get over the loss of his girlfriend. Told between present day sessions and flashbacks, we see what went on the day that Rachel disappeared. However, as the story progresses, two distinct paths open up with varying memories that contradict one another as Matthew battles with himself to discover which is the true memory – did she really disappear or was she not taken at all?

The first part of the film is quite captivating as the viewer is sucked into Matthew’s tales of alien abduction and with the introduction of Alicia, someone who’s also suffered the disappearance of a family member in similar circumstances, we get the impression that there’s a conspiracy going on and that the two individuals have been taken for a particular reason by hostile beings from another planet. When the film hits the halfway mark, things get a bit muddled as Matthew’s memory paths collide. As if it’s not already traumatic to Matthew, it becomes hard to decipher what is part of one strand of memories and what is part of another, though the main outcomes of the two different paths are evident. With this particular execution of the story, I was expecting a big pay off but instead the film seems to sizzle out towards the ending with just a cheeky little twist to for good measure.

ALIEN STRAIN is a struggle to watch. It feels broken in its structure and quite often seems to repeat itself in its narrative. Laced with a veil of confusion from the main character, it’s hard to actually get involved with the storyline once the initial plot has been outlined in the early scenes. This may be to do with the use of flashbacks over your standard style of storytelling but with the plot seemingly going nowhere, there’s no real conclusion that satisfies thus leaving us with an unfulfilling sci-fi.

ALIEN STRAIN (2014) ALIEN STRAIN (2014) Written and directed by Robert Benavides Jr. and Andy Palmer After an argument during a camping trip in the desert, Matthew’s girlfriend Rachel