The new horror film from the makers of ‘Insidious’ and ‘Sinister’ (Blumhouse Productions), and bearing similarities to their ‘Paranormal Activity’ franchise which began before those two releases, sees many familiar motifs return and take on new cross-genre twists, actually leaving the film in danger of becoming a parody of itself. The culturally ubiquitous idea of ‘The Boogeyman’ is back, and right from the beginning we are informed this stalker of children’s nightmares will now appear in the guise of extraterrestrials. Some of the scares are decent enough, though most are exactly what we expect from previous material and the screenplay is dire to say the least, especially when it comes to the adults in the story. As per the norm the action concerns an average, struggling with bills, family of four that have mysteriously become the centre of attention of some otherworldly visitors.
What the film doesn’t swipe from its predecessors, it takes very obviously from other sci-fi sources; mention of the truth being out there and wanting to believe immediately bring the wonderful ‘X-Files’ to mind, the title is shared by another nineties sci-fi tv series about alien invasion, scenes are lifted directly from both Spielberg’s ‘E.T.’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, and at one point we witness scores of birds flying kamikaze style into windows and walls, identical to scenes in ‘Red Lights’. The introduction of alien expert and victim Edwin Pollard, played by J.K.Simmons, brings a bit more interest to the piece, and also a little more sympathy for the family, but it’s nothing more than a brief glimmer of what could have been with the application of more invention and originality. If done in the right way, this could have spawned a franchise in its own right, ‘Dark Skies’ the tv series was good until it lost its way toward the end, and long before that there was ‘The Invaders’ (and the bit more camp ‘V’), a fantastic series that highlighted the potential for ‘they are amongst us’ stories to engross and fascinate skeptics and believers alike.
This is a dilution of the genuinely quite scary ‘Insidious’ (10), and then the nowhere near as good ‘Sinister’ (12). Look forward to the next logical step from Jason Blum and co where the aliens discard their used human experiments at Fukushima, wherein they become zombies that all look like the girl from ‘Ringu’ and can only be properly seen by the naked eye via surveillance cameras, forcing the army to get involved, who originally blame immigrant Korean workers until the evidence becomes overwhelming, although the Japanese emperor still refuses to acknowledge what’s going on, until his wife turns into a zombie and eats him.