AKA: THE RECALL
I know what you’re thinking, and it’s not because of any sort of sinister alien telepathy. Just seeing the names headlining this release conjures up a tantalizing prospect. It could be a film where Wesley Snipes tools up in a hunter’s cabin before kicking some extra-terrestrial ass. However I’m going to let you down right away here, and report that this isn’t really that kind of film. Exactly what it’s trying to be isn’t clear at all to be honest, as there are a lot of ideas being thrown around without any of it really sticking. It falls somewhere between a standard teenagers in the woods tale and an alien abduction story, and while most of the expected moments come along in some shape or another it never really delivers on any of these individual elements.
For the most part this is just another dull movie about horny college kids alone in the middle of nowhere for the weekend. An opening scene in which two astronauts see something strange heading towards the planet gives away what is coming, but further scenes outside the cabin in the woods are few and far between. A handful of sequences at a Radar base in Alaska or at a table occupied by senior military brass are thrown in occasionally, but prepare yourself for all the usual low budget woodland antics.
Shortly after leaving for a rural getaway, our central group of youngsters soon bump into a nameless hunter (Snipes) at a gas station, who proves to be more than a little eccentric. It’s clear that this is meant to be a threatening figure, but with so much else going on his role isn’t expanded enough – his short lived appearance is another a sign of things to come. Meanwhile the ‘storm of the century’ is brewing conspicuously over large areas of the globe, hinting that there are unnatural forces at work in the upper atmosphere. Exploring the local area on arrival the gang comes across a remote shack that is obviously home to the hunter they met, so of course they wander in. The items he’s been hoarding suggest that he knows exactly what is about to arrive.
The standard scenes all play out as car engines fail, over sexed couples jump on each, and scary figures lurk in the shadows. Romantic melodrama is added between tragic introvert Charlie (Jedidiah Goodacre) and cheerful single girl Annie (Laura Bilgeri) although it’s pretty stilted and is explored at all the wrong moments. The overall narrative lacks any kind of pacing. Nerdy photographer Brendan (RJ Mitte) sets up convenient motion sensing cameras to take wildlife pictures during the night, but there’s a bare minimum characterisation overall. The more outspoken Rob (Niko Pepaj) turns into a gun wielding maniac at the drop of a hat for some reason when things go bad, and they’re just not a particularly sympathetic or memorable bunch on the whole.
The Hunter of course is the star of the show when he does show his face. Beyond telling expository tales of alien abduction and space flight missions gone awry, Snipes seems to be well aware of the kind of film this is. He takes every opportunity to chew the scenery and deliver some laughable dialogue – as well as a few silly one liners that don’t quite fit the tone of the story. In some cases it feels weirdly ad-libbed (which is probably the case) but at least it’s always amusing whether the reasons are good or bad. The prime example is a bizarre retort about an injured guy whining so much that he needs some cheese to go with all the ‘wine’… Generally his action movie quips highlight a major issue here; that the genre mashup being attempted doesn’t really work.
It feels very disjointed from one scene to the next, and the truth is you could lose his character altogether and the rest of the story would basically play out the same way. The ideal situation would obviously be to lose the teenagers, and have him alone setting traps and using all the weapons and tools he has stocked up over the years. But that would be too entertaining. This lack focus on good ideas defies common sense, but there are many jumps in logic here. How does Annie randomly know how to use a military radio? Why are the aliens shambling around in the woods when they have a perfectly good ship that collects people for them? Why is their weakness to sunlight mentioned and then forgotten? Why is that same stock scream effect used so many times?
In terms of design and practical effects there are some good alien moments, from the look of lights coming through the wooden panels of a cabin or the eerie ship interiors. Some digital creations strain the budget too far, but it’s never too offensive. But even in terms of abduction nightmares this is all weirdly tame for some reason. Certain things are reminiscent of The Matrix instead of being pushed towards true body horror – it’s an odd choice for this sort of thing. In the end the story twists are also pretty underwhelming because of the way things lead to the final reveal, and any deeper ideas about the human species are wasted. Whatever you’re looking for in terms of a simple UFO story or a one liner fuelled b-movie, this just doesn’t deliver on any of these typical genre staples.