UFO: It Is Here (2016)
Five film students are producing a documentary about the local zoo when suddenly the animals go berserk: The reason is a light ball flying by in the sky and crashing in the horizon. Convinced that they've just witnessed a meteor crashing, the students follow the trajectory to document the event with their camera. In a forest area they discover a burned crater. Since it's too dark to film they decide to spend the night in their van. The next morning one of them is missing. The remaining students find first a trail of blood and then the torn up pieces of what used to be their friend. Soon they realize that something is hunting them - something that's not from this world.
REVIEW: Found Footage horror movies is a sub-genre that gets a lot of hate from almost all sides, but personally I can't get enough of them and I love doing reviews for them. Unfortunately, it's also the sub-genre that you really have no idea whatsoever what you're in store for when you start watching a movie, in terms of what the overall quality and story progression will be like, as it's wildly different from movie to movie.
Luckily Germany's very late answer to The Blair Witch Project, UFO: It Is Here, is one of the entries in the sub-genre that is mostly very enjoyable, not to mention downright genuinely creepy at times.
Where this is a German movie than yes, it has English subtitles. Now personally, I don't usually have trouble reading subtitles however even I found it difficult to keep up with them at times during this movie, so if you're the type of person that's a bit slower at reading subtitles or can't keep up with them on a normal basis, than I think you'll have trouble keeping up with them here for sure. On the plus side, it's actually not all that integral to 100% understand the dialog during Found Footage movies most of the time, as anything important to the plot unfolds directly on the screen, so you may just want to chance it anyway.
As for the movie itself, I had a blast with it. The last several Found Footage movies I've checked out I didn't really enjoy much at all, so finally reaching a new one I enjoyed was a nice breath of fresh air. Now, don't get me wrong, this movie is far from original. Actually, in terms of the plot and how everything unfolds there is absolutely nothing new here at all and you'll have seen this movie a dozen times over if you're as familiar with Found Footage as I am. But even though the formula is an overdone one, it's a formula that works and works quite well. As I briefly mentioned above, this movie is essentially The Blair Witch Project, just replace the supernatural going-ons with tentacled blob aliens. The characters are making a documentary for film class, they get lost in the woods, their friend goes missing, his teeth show up later in a pile of blood, strange things are going on in the woods around them, there's even the whole 'one character makes the stereotypical hold camera to face for crying confessional' moment. But like I said, even though it may not be original, it all works here.
What also works in this movie is all the technical aspects; The sound design is amazingly effective and creepy, right from the various noises and sounds that the aliens make to even the realistic-sounding blood curdling screams of one of the main characters being killed off-screen in the distance, it all worked quite well and more than once sent shivers down my spine. Also, the aliens themselves, while their design is nothing groundbreaking and, if anything, slightly unimaginative (giant blob with tentacles), the actual work that went into their practical effects was astounding! No word of a lie, these creatures in this movie looked like they could have easily been real-life alien creatures that the filmmakers actually found and put in their movie, they were that convincing. Even the little baby ones that hatch during the movie and proceed to attack our characters (which reminded me of the detachable Graboid snake-tongues from Tremors 5: Bloodlines) looked damn convincing.
However, the first of my issues also stems from this aspect, in a round about way. As awesome as the aliens looked, I believe they showed them to us way too soon. In most Found Footage movies they save that 'holy shit' money shot moment for the very end of the movie, or if they do show us good looks at the creatures/ghosts/aliens/whatever the movie is about earlier in the movie, they continue to give us glimpses of it throughout the rest of the movie (like in the killer Bigfoot flick Exists), however this movie gives us the anticipated money shot a good half hour or so from the end of the movie, and then proceeds to pretty much show us nothing after that for the remainder of the runtime, save for a couple very quick shots of the baby aliens and then one quick shot of a lone tentacle at the very end. I wouldn't call it anti-climatic, as there is some good tension and creepy stuff in that final half hour (the scene with the creaking floorboards in the farmhouse totally had me on edge), but it was definitely disappointing having the movie give us that phenomenal reveal of the aliens so far from the end of the movie, only to give us nothing that even comes close to matching it after that.
In addition, the characters themselves are very forgettable and quite boring to watch as far as characters go. There were only two out of this group of five that were any bit interesting and stood out from the rest in any way, however one of them is the very first character to die early-on, and the other totally looses the unique personality she has once the shit hits the fan and just turns into another bland cardboard cutout random character like the rest. They run, they scream, they breathe heavy, and they argue about what to do next. That's all there is to them. I was having trouble keeping track after awhile of which ones had died and which were still alive because they were all the exact same to me and pretty interchangeable.
If UFO: It Is Here had done more with showing us the aliens during that last half hour, or saved the big money shot reveal until the end, and if it had given us better more interesting characters to watch during this movie than I think it could easily have been right up there among my all-time top favorite Found Footage flicks.
Still, it's a highly enjoyable entry in the sub-genre all the same, with fantastic practical effects and some pretty genuinely creepy moments. though I know some viewers may get an exhausted 'been there, done that' feeling while watching this one unfold, as it plays out not just exactly like The Blair Witch Project, but also dozens of other Found Footage movies just like it. However, for those like me that can look past some of those issues, this really is a good Found Footage horror movie to throw on some stormy weekend night.
7/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward