If there was ever such a thing as a “how to make a horror movie guide”, I’m pretty sure it would consist of everything you see in the Vicious Brothers’ cabin in the woods tale Extraterrestrial. You have your handful of dumb teens, a cabin in the woods, the wise old man who warns them of the danger, a threat that picks them off one by one, and of course, not a single character is capable of making a good decision. The unoriginal plot sees a group of friends on a weekend trip at a cabin find themselves terrorized by alien visitors.
Okay, so the title of the film doesn’t exactly hide any secrets so it should come to no surprise that it starts with a doozy as a very distraught girl is seen running for her life. She doesn’t get far, however, as she’s promptly beamed up into the rainy night, never to be seen again. Before that, though, she was desperately banging on the door of a locked convenience store, presumably to avoid being probed to death by otherworldly beings. The problem? The dude inside completely ignores her because he literally just finished closing the store moments before she showed up screaming bloody murder. Now I could be wrong but something tells me that most guys wouldn’t ignore a gorgeous girl soaked from head to toe in the rain because you just “closed”. Thanks to this wonderful type of asshole, the girl seeks shelter in a phone booth, only to be pulled into the sky by a brilliant flash of white light. Poof. Gone forever.
That’s the start of Extraterrestrial. Not bad, really. In fact, it’s quite the setup if you ask me. Not too many alien flicks nail down that sense of dread right out of the gate, so I’ve got to hand it to the Vicious Brothers for coming out so strong on this one. It’s too bad that the following hour and a half is a cliche-ridden mess, though. And really, that’s the major problem with Extraterrestrial is that other than it looking extremely gorgeous for an indie flick, it’s almost like they just copy and pasted elements out of dozens of other boring, uninventive films and applied it to this one. That’s not how you’re supposed to do it.
Adding insult to injury, the film is randomly littered with the most pointless use of found-footage that I’ve ever seen as they take a perfectly good moment in the movie and ruin it by intercutting it with the shakiest of shaky cams. Why do that? It’s already being dragged to the ground by some of the most annoying horror movie cliches out there; no need to film it in the most annoying way possible, too.
But beyond its cliches, cheap jump scares and paper thin characters that are literally there just to take up space until there inevitable deaths, the most frustrating thing about Extraterrestrial is that there’s actually a shred of a solid movie in this mess somewhere. I don’t know where you’ll find it but I’m convinced that it’s there because the Vicious Brothers are way too talented to let this kind of stuff fly. Had they just changed the structure around a little bit by adding a less than predictable narrative with characters that you actually give a shit about, you’d have something entirely different. Something that might have resembled the film we were all hoping for. Instead, this one is as generic as they come with an ending that is painfully obvious.