Alien Origin (2012)
‘Director’: Mark Atkins
‘Starring’: Chelsea Vincent, Trey McCurley, Philip Coc
ThereWolf, February 2015
Honestly, it’s not worth a review but for the sake of the series…
Did you know that Belize has its own Special Forces unit? Thank heaven for Julia Evans (Chelsea Vincent), an ‘adventure journalist’ – who, I might add, chooses to wear ‘shopping’ boots for a 3-day yomp through heavy jungle terrain – coz she does and she’s going to tell us all about them. Shush, it’ll be interesting. Jules and her documentary film crew follow the ‘BSF’ on a mission to set up remote cameras around the jungle in order for the authorities to monitor naughty people running illegal operations such as logging, farming or monkey-catapulting. But the mission gets subbed when a call from base sends them in search of two missing archeologists. What they find will bore you beyond reason…
Alien Origin is so relentlessly shit, right, such was the miserable nadir that I plumbed, I actually convinced myself I could watch AvP Requiem & Kick Ass 2 back-to-back rather than persist – after just 25 minutes. I’ve done some research; apparently Alien Origin is a Prometheus rip-off from a studio (The Asylum – apt) that specialises in releasing bargain bin perennials in order to leapfrog ahead of their more financially endowed counterparts by stealing – sorry – utilising the same plot. Prometheus? Predator, maybe… [REC] at a push, but Prometheus? Well, let’s see, there’s a bit of an Ancient Aliens nod about midway through but the ‘aliens seeded humans’ lift, which I assume is the thing being alluded to, is stuffed into an absurd 30-second ‘epilogue’ at the movie’s close. Basically, you drag yourself, sans-trousers, through 90 minutes of celluloid razor wire toward some kind of hoped for salvation only to have the cinematic equivalent of a big hairy unwashed clinker-ridden arse crack rubbed in your face as a ‘thank you’.
It’s a ‘found footage’ flick. In fact it’s a ‘found footage’ flick in which they find more ‘found footage’. I’m fine with unsteadi-cam but if I’m honest the genre was played out long ago and Alien Origin adds nothing to it, while the vertigo-inducing shots on offer here are the worst example of the method yet. We begin with Belize’s finest advancing quietly through a jungle. They’re professional, no talking, all hand signals and whatnot. The ‘no talking’ goes on for ages until we get to easily the best bit in the film and when I say ‘best bit’ I mean the bit that honks slightly less than everything else around it. They find a boat in the jungle – but they are 150 miles from open water. Promising. Here they find some found footage and you realise why they don’t talk much: “Is that what you found on the boat?” The soldier holding a recovered camera replies, “Yeah, it’s a camera,” because the object in his hand with a lens on the front, flash and a shutter release button could easily be mistaken for a gazelle. The gazelle contains footage of a guy swimming happily until an object large and noisy yoinks him screaming out of the sea. You can’t see what’s going on coz the image goes awry but I’ll guess ‘probe’ and ‘anus’ won’t be too wide of the post.
Anyway, they flirt around in Blair Witch territory for a minute, then one of the soldiers does his ‘Billy’ routine, y’know, ‘there’s something out there and it ain’t no man.’ Pathetic. By the way, I didn’t clock many character names and I didn’t check back; it didn’t seem important. The squad locates a tent belonging to the missing duo, Holden and Susan, plus a startled courier bloke who’s got a package for Holden. I was really impressed with ‘Parcel Pete’; he found a tent in the middle of a jungle. That’s top rate service, that is. Inside the tent there is more found footage, of Holden and Susan exploring a cave. We see them discover a few Mayan artifacts and a weird looking skull. The footage ends abruptly in blurry chaos and it’s difficult to establish if there’s been a probe/ anus interface. They continue, searching for a Mennonite plantation where, rumour has it, Susan (Daniela Flynn) is being cared for. After having her brow dabbed for a couple of seconds she makes a full recovery and off they all trot. In glorious indistinct night-vision the team encounters what appears to be an alien craft. They enter and have an urgent whispering contest in what looks suspiciously like a factory boiler room until Susie nicks an alien skull. That triggers an alarm so they all run away. Someone lets off a firework. They don’t find Holden.
Then I got confused; characters just disappear, i.e. half the soldiers and Susan. They find Holden’s cave and I’m thinking, ‘where is everybody?’ but it doesn’t matter coz they all start shouting and shooting at nothing. In the middle of this, Holden (John Frear) rocks up and they bundle him away. Julia’s on one side of him, soldier on the other and she’s trying to cover his mouth coz he’s traumatised and keeps shouting ‘Lara’ or ‘Laura’ or possibly ‘I don’t wanna be in this bollocks anymore’. The squad leader (who, to be fair, seems authentic) tells them that he’s their baggage and to keep him from giving their position away. Seconds later, Julia and the soldier are tooling along and… and where’s Holden? He isn’t there. You think someone else is taking a turn looking after him? No, he’s just not there. Did he escape them and run off? (Wolf shrugs, palms up) One isn’t given time to dwell on such trivialities coz they all start shouting and shooting at nothing again. Essentially, once they find the cave, that’s pretty much the movie – shouting “Go-go-go-go!” or “Move-move-move-move!” and shooting at nothing.
This barrel-scraping cack is unwatchable. Nothing happens for nigh on an hour and when something does happen you can’t see it. Where do the characters go? First Susan, then Holden… and then they both reappear, along with a few more soldiers, near the end during an ‘action’ sequence. Eh? The advanced weaponry the alien shoots off appears to be the kind of firework I can buy in B&M Bargains. People get killed but you’re not aware they’ve been killed coz mostly it happens off screen; they’re there and then they’re not. No sense of camaraderie and no defiant promise to a fallen buddy, like ‘I’m gonna cut your name into him…’ Insultingly, we are then expected to follow anonymous peripheral characters into the final ‘showdown’; didn’t give a shit about the primary characters, what chance have these dregs got to engage me? “We will use the jungle,” one of them says. They don’t; they die. A handy caption tells us that Julia and Holden are missing, handy because we didn’t see any suggestion of them being taken, by aliens or otherwise. Shall I tell you the big twist in the epilogue and ruin the film for you? The alien DNA is 70% human. Gob smacked – I wasn’t. This information is delivered by Susan, a helpful bone-throwing conversation we didn’t get earlier in the film but should’ve done because we never see what the feck the feckin soldiers are feckin firing at throughout the feckin flick!
Tell you what, Roger Corman wouldn’t stand for it. A case in point is Attack Of The Crab Monsters, where he ends each scene on a bombshell. By the time I got to 62 minutes of naught, I realised that Corman’s silly but entertaining movie was done and dusted by now, roll the credits. Old Rog ’d rip 40 minutes out of Alien Origin, plus you’d see an alien, even if it was papier mache and had to be dangled around on visible wires. Look at Predator, a movie Origin owes almost everything to – the scene where they lay waste to the jungle. The Origin crew might argue, ‘but they’re shooting at nothing…’ The point is we know there’s a formidable adversary out there. In Origin, even by the end, we never know what anybody is shooting at and when they get a chance to show the enemy (outside the cave) it’s a botch job. Plus, it doesn’t help when the person ‘documenting’ chooses to point his camera at soldiers shooting at nothing rather than what they’re shooting at. What is the Belize force fighting and why is it better than them? Predator shows us a life form using heat-vision and some kind of technological camouflage – and that’s all we need, we know Arnie and the boys are in for a rough ride. What’s Origin got? Fireworks. Piss off.
If you had any self respect as a film maker, if you had any love for cinema – you would’ve looked at that script on your desk and just held your hands up to the fact that you’d got nothing and moved on – ‘not this time, fellas, what else we got?’ You would not go ahead and film nothing. I cut a lot of slack for bad movies and I’ve always held onto the probably naive notion that no film maker ever sets out to make a bad film. It is my demoralising duty to inform you I was wrong.
Do not watch Alien Origin. Do not look at the poster and think ‘cool poster, I’ll give it a go’. Do not watch a trailer and think ‘looks a bit like Predator, can’t be too bad…’ It’s bad. Alien Origin is one of the most appalling films I have ever had the misfortune to inflict upon myself. If you’ve seen it already then you have my deepest, heartfelt sympathy and I apologise unreservedly for not getting to you sooner and sparing you the torture.
It’s a long while since I’ve dished out one of these…
Alien Origin meet Rude Gorilla. You deserve it.
A second cheers to you fine folk.
ThereWolf, February 2015