Saturday, December 3, 2016

In short: UFO – Es ist hier (2016)

aka UFO: It Is Here

The obligatory troupe (gaggle? murder?) of film school students are shooting documentary footage at a zoo when they witness what looks like a meteorite crashing down in some woods at least several kilometres away. After some bickering, they decide to change their documentary project and go meteorite hunting. Soon, they are in the deep dark woods (well, as deep and dark as woods get that look to be rather close to a decent road).

What they find doesn’t look much like a meteorite and rather more like some kind of wreckage – but the wreckage of what? Because these people have very bad survival instincts, and it’s rather late in the day now, our protagonists decide to spend the night in the woods and poke around in the wreckage in the morning.

When our heroes awaken, they realize that one of their number has disappeared, leaving behind a camera that suggests he has been attacked by something. Indeed, they’ll find his mutilated corpse in a tree after a while. Somehow, they also manage to get completely lost in the process – their cellphones naturally don’t work anymore – and soon make the acquaintance of the creature that killed their friend – and more of its ilk.

At one point early on in Daniele Grieco’s (second, following Die Präsenz ) German POV horror film, I was tempted to turn it off again right quick, expecting the ten minutes or so of bickering guys and gals meandering through the woods in the worst sub-Blair Witch Project style to mean the rest of the film would continue as exactly the sort of bad copy of betters things these scenes suggest. Fortunately, I persisted, for while UFO certainly isn’t terribly original, it quickly stops borrowing its ideas exclusively from that often so badly copied film, and actually comes around to a handful of pretty effective moments of suspense, even taking us into seldom POV-explored terrain like a cave and a farmstead in the process. Which is a lot more than I can say for many a film riding these particular coat tails.

The aliens we get to see are pretty effective designs too, with lots of slimy appendages, icky eggs and unhygienic habits. Again, this sort of thing is obviously not original per se in horror, but not overused in POV horror. More importantly, Grieco does manage to sell slime, glowing eggs, worm things and shadowy movements as actual threats to his protagonists, as well as somewhat creepy to the jaded viewer.

On the negative side, there’s clunky dialogue, a bit too much shaky cam when it’s not really necessary, and characters without traits, but I still did end up having more fun with UFO than I expected. There’s certainly enough of value and fun in here to make for a satisfying eighty minutes of film.

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