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.