|Science Fiction, Thriller
Asylum Home Entertainment
June 12th, 2012
Release length: approx 1:30:00
Written and Produced by Mark Atkins, the man behind some of The Asylum’s better films such as Battle of Los Angeles, Haunting of Winchester House, with additional writing credit to Peter Pedrero, who is known more as a stunt coordinator for major films like Braveheart and The Bourne Ultimatum, have put together this supposedly real found footage effort. Taken from hours upon hours of supposedly recently discovered film, it tells the tale of a news team that is documenting a military expedition to set up cameras throughout Belize with a sub-plot to look for a group of missing North American scientists. No real reason for the crew to be filming this is ever given though, and eventually it all takes on an alien plot a good while after so much wasted time of walking through similar jungle settings, as well as the international trailer, official logo twice before the movie even starts, and the announcement that this was compiled from all the material found. If anything, all of this becomes a bad sign that you just saw everything interesting that this effort has to offer.
The plot is actually pretty simple, but the overall execution on it is just garbage and hard to follow. There are times where the cameras continuously switch out, literally acting like a typical film with multiple angles spliced together, especially since the main camera operator never seems to say anything, even when the aliens are attacking later on in the film and everyone is screaming or barking out orders. One of the big hang-ups here becomes the camera work itself, which is largely just shots of b-roll. At one point, a boat is found in the middle of a clearing, and there’s a couple minutes spent just walking around it in silence. There’s also just large shots of the “jungle” being used, or footage of the soldier’s feet, or backs if the camera happens to be tilted up enough. Yes there are times where things are lined up well, but those seem to only be when the female reporter is trying to be professional. Much of Alien Origin seems to be shot within the same area, as there’s no real difference in any of the setting aside the aforementioned boat scene, and a few others involving everyone walking by some running water or a small lake (which seems to be used later during the alien attack sequences), by a small cliff in the distance, as well as inside the alien ship, which is easily the most impressive of scenary. Of course, this isn’t saying a lot, especially when you get very little time to enjoy it considering the camera man was replaced for it by a five year old ADHD patient after downing a package of Pixie Sticks.
There’s really no character development either throughout this release, and that largely stems from the actors having very little to say, and when they do it’s almost guaranteed to be something obvious or pointless, like trying to figure out if a handheld camera is infact a handheld camera, or shaking down some random guy in the jungle with a few simple questions than advising him repeatedly to get out of the area. But, most of the time it ends up being walking around silently in the jungle. This is something you can chock up to being the military trying to avoid larger wildlife, avoiding traps by hunters of said game, or even to avoid conflict with any roaming gangs similar to those that South America can have. Due to this, there’s no real tension, not even when an alien swoops into their camp and marks up a few trees, as well as destroys one of their night vision cameras. But, this military and film squad does happen upon two of the aforementioned lost scientists, one later than the other, after finding their camp and rescuing their research footage showing a cave entrance with an alien skull in it. This leads to a breath of fresh air in the acting as the female that is found does a pretty good job in this film, though her performance feels more akin to a rape victim than anything else, often yelling at the camera operator to back off, who for some reason has decided to nearly dry hump her with the lens.
But this horrible acting, as well as the camera work simply get worse when they are eventually attacked by the aliens, which are rarely seen. This is often due to the cameras screwing up whenever one is near (or for no reason whatsoever) and blurring them out through static or flickering images. This attack sequence is largely at night, and not all cameras use night vision so it gets harder to follow what exactly is going on since you can’t see anything half the time. Some of the characters seem to just disappear, and you’ll spend more time wondering if anyone died during the attack, or if they were just running in a different direction. Some of this is explained later on in the film through text on the screen. The main issue here becomes that the aliens are largely incorporated through fireworks lit off camera and shooting at the main characters. You never get to see the aliens through the whole film, though sometimes they do show up on screen, but thanks to how bad the cameras screw up, you often don’t get to see them. The only time it comes in remotely clear is during the still shot at the very end when you notice it has a remarkably human face, though more of an insect-like bosy similar to that of a beetle of grasshopper. This is, of course, prior to the tacked on epilogue that can be a bit insulting to some cultures, and manages to tie the aliens to human genetics, linking them as the originator of life on Earth.
In the end, Alien Origin is just a horrible film. The acting is atrocious except for one actress, there’s no character development, the story is hard to follow, the camera work sucks, and the concluding epilogue feels horibly tacked on and will honestly make you groan out loud in pain, especially with how insulting it can actually be. There are title cards thrown in here and there, and perhaps if more footage had been used outside of the top of the hour, there would be more action. This movie feels like nothing more than a group of people out in someone’s backyard or the local woods filming a movie in the same way a group of first or second grader would with mommy or daddy’s camcorder. There’s nothing memorable about it aside the cheap and forced Prometheus tie-in at the end and, overall, this is just a bad film that carries a rushed-to-store-shelves vibe to market off that said blockbuster, which is typical for The Asylum, but usually they tend to put in an effort that leads to an enjoyably bad film. Instead, this is easily one of, if not the worst films in their catalogue, and isn’t even worth that one measely dollar (US currency) at your local automated movie rental kiosk to experience.
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.