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I know what you’re thinking, and it’s not thanks to of any sort of sinister alien telepathy. It’s because the actor headlining this release conjures up a tantalizing prospect. This could be a film in which Wesley Snipes tools up in a hunter’s cabin before kicking some extra-terrestrial ass. However, I have to let you down right away because this isn’t really that kind of film. Exactly what it’s trying to be isn’t clear at all since there are a lot of ideas being thrown around without any of it really sticking. Most of it falls somewhere between a standard teenage melodrama and an alien abduction story. Most of the expected clichés come along in some form or another, but it never really delivers on any of these individual elements.

For the most part this is just another dull movie about horny college kids; they’re alone in the middle of nowhere for the weekend so things are never surprising. An opening scene in which two astronauts see something strange heading towards the planet teases what is to come at least. But any further scenes set outside the cabin in the woods are few and far between. A handful of sequences do take place at a radar base in Alaska, and a table occupied by military brass is shown every so often to add some variety. But prepare yourself for all the usual woodland antics that low budget film making has to offer.

Soon after leaving for a rural getaway our group of youngsters bump into a nameless hunter (Snipes) at a gas station. He proves to be more than a little eccentric and it’s clear that he is meant to be a threatening figure. But with so much else going on his role isn’t explored enough. This 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 atmosphere. Exploring the local area the gang comes across a remote shack that is obviously home to the same hunter, so predictably they wander right in. The items he’s been hoarding here suggest that he knows exactly what is about to arrive.

All the standard scenes all play out as car engines fail, over sexed couples jump on each other, 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 focused on in all the wrong moments. The overall narrative shares similar problems with the 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. Later on 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. But they’re just not a particularly sympathetic or memorable bunch all round.

The mysterious hunter of course is the star of the show, when he actually shows his face that is. 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 while the results are a mixed bag at least it’s always amusing. The prime example is a bizarre quip where he tells an injured camper that he’s whining so much he needs some cheese to go with all the ‘wine’. Unfortunately his action movie one-liners highlight a major issue here; the whole genre mash-up doesn’t really work.

It feels very disjointed from one scene to the next, and the truth is they could lose the hunter altogether and the rest of the story would play out the same way. The ideal situation would be to cut the teenagers of course; leaving him alone to set traps and use all the weapons he has collected over the years. That would too entertaining, and probably too expensive. This lack of focus on good ideas defies common sense, highlighting just how many jumps in logic are included. How does Annie know how to use a military radio? Why are the aliens shambling around in the woods when they have a perfectly good ship that abducts people for them? Why is their weakness to sunlight mentioned and then forgotten? Why is the same scream sound effect used so many times?

In terms of visual design and practical alien effects there are some good moments, from the look of lights coming through the wooden panels of a cabin to the eerie spaceship interiors. Some digital creations strain the budget, but it’s never too offensive. It’s a shame that the abduction nightmares are weirdly tame for some reason. Certain things are reminiscent of The Matrix instead of being pushed towards true body horror, which is just one more odd choice for this sort of fare. In the end it’s all just very underwhelming despite this potential. The story twists lack impact because of the way it leads to the final reveal, and any deeper ideas about the human species are wasted. Whether you’re looking for a UFO story or a one-liner fuelled action film this doesn’t deliver on any of the expected staples.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

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About Mocata 149 Articles
A sucker for classic epics, 80s science fiction and fantasy kitsch, horror, action, animation, stop motion, world cinema, martial arts and all kinds of assorted stuff and nonsense. If you enjoy a bullet ballet, a good eye ball gag or a story about time travelling robots maybe we can be friends after all.

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