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Extraterrestrial (Blu-ray Review)

ExtraterrestrialFrom The Vicious Brothers, the creators of Grave Encounters, comes a pulse-pounding encounter of the deadly kind. The sinister alien abduction thriller Extraterrestrial makes its Blu-ray and DVD debut from Scream Factory, in partnership with IFC Midnight. Filled with dread and suspense,Extraterrestrial is a hair-raising homage in the tradition of classic alien abduction movies, with impressive visual effects that bring a visceral energy to the film. Scream Factory’s  Blu-ray and DVD releases come loaded with bonus features, including new audio commentary tracks by the Vicious Brothers and actors Brittany Allen and Melanie Papalia, the new featurette The Making of Extraterrestrial, deleted scenes and more! Fans can pre-order their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com

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Film 

April, still reeling from her parents’ divorce, is dragged by her boyfriend, and a group of his friends back to the cabin where she spent summers as a child. Her trip down memory lane takes a dramatic and terrifying turn when a fireball descends from the sky and explodes in the nearby woods. The group venture out to the crash site and discover the remnants of a ship from another planet, along with footprints that suggest its alien occupants are still alive. They soon find themselves caught in the middle of something bigger and more terrifying than anything they could ever imagine.

Extraterrestrial is a really interesting exercise.  The script for the film is pretty average, if not really anything special.  Actors and performances in the film are pretty much your run of the mill cheap horror movie variety.  However, its the guys behind the camera (Who wrote it too. So…balance…i guess?) that elevate this film into something pretty damn entertaining and more visceral than the film had any business being.  These guys are known simply as “The Vicious Brothers” and this is their first step out from their Grave Encounters movies (Of which I’m not familiar).

These guys add some terrific visuals to the film and craft reveals and intense moments with a good enough precision that makes me curious about their previous work.  I’m not sure if they’ll hold up as well, but this film shows some promise from a technical standpoint.  There is a ton of ambition here that is really risky for a low budget affair to pull off.  And with what their given and the type of film this is taken into account, they absolutely nail it.

This film starts out decent enough with Ok to average characters that are enough for us to go on the journey with.  Their discoveries and chases to figure out what’s going on and fight back work for enough of the time, but it does get tiresome.  We also get a hell of a red herring character in this sheriff they want us to feel is going to be significant when the time comes.  However, this movies has  HELL of a last 15-20 minutes.  Its so good, so interesting and well done that its worth sitting through the first roughly hour and 20 to get to.  Its visionary, weird, creepy and a bit haunting.  Much kudos.  You’ll leave this thing on a high thinking about what it is you just saw at the end.

Extraterrestrial feels for most of the runtime that its some rather tired walk in the park horror film feeding into the Cabin In The Woods stereotype.  Luckily, while its still entertaining during that, it rises above and takes on some challenges other filmmakers might not have faced.  There are easy ways to do a movie like this.   And it would be understandable had it gone that route.  But, Extraterrestrial stands out because the Vicious Brothers went head on and risked a lot and made the bold move to take this where they did on a low budget.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  This modern digitally shot image translates as it should to Blu-ray.  Picture is sharp and plenty defined.  The dirt paths, leaves and the like have plenty of detail and definition.  The image can look pretty striking at times, but for the most part is kinda tame for a modern image, but its vivid look should appeal to many.

Depth:  Dimensions look rather fine, especially during the final act, which I won’t go into any spoiling here on that.  Characters move smoothly, and background objects and surfaces come through with good clarity.

Black Levels:  Blacks are pretty rich.  Some minor crushing is present during some rather pitch black night sequences.  No detail is masked though and it mostly helps to define characters/obejcts.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are pretty vivid and pop here.  Reds and greens prove to be some of the stronger ones.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones look natural and consistent.  Close ups feature some really good detail with dried blood, wrinkles, freckles and such coming through.  Medium and far shots feature some smoothness to them at times but at others have some impressive detail.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA (The box lists 5.1 and makes no mention of 2.0)

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish (Box does not mention Spanish subtitles)

Dynamics:  The 7.1 tracks is an eye-opening touch for Scream Factory, but its kind of lackluster.  Volume is set lower and a lot of the effects and the like didn’t sound full and sometimes had a “canned” effect.  The score is also much louder than the vocals and effects in the mix.  On the other side of things, the 2.0 track is absolutely marvelous.  The effects are full, rich and there’s a nice balance on vocals and score with them.

Low Frequency Extension:  There are some things going on here with the subwoofer.  Jumps are effects and struggles that feature action like crashes and the like rumble.  Also, in a Act 1 when the space ship soars through the air before tumbling in the woods is pretty effective and a lot of fun.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There is some good ambiance throughout.  The rear and side speakers feature some decent moments and enhancements on motion and action in the film.  The front speakers feature an accurate representation of movement and volume placement for stuff on screen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp and clean.  Its a lot louder on the 2.0 track, as the 7.1 leaves some to be desired.

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Extras 

Extraterrestrial features reversible cover art with alternate poster artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • Cast & Crew – The Vicious Brothers and Actors Brittany Allen and Melanie Papalia.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 7:17)

The Making Of Extraterrestrial (HD, 7:44) – The Vicious Brothers takes us through a brief (but detailed) account of coming up with and executing the film.

Trailer (HD, 1:59)

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Summary 

I found myself overall liking Extraterrestrial well enough that I’d lightly recommend to the right people and definitely revisit it myself.  The story and characters aren’t the greatest, but its the directorial talent and boldness of the Vicious Brothers that came through for me.  This Blu-ray features strong video and solid (but somewhat disappointing concerning the 7.1 track) audio.  Extras come here decent enough considering what we have given.  This is definitely on the better side of Scream Factory movies that are modern or recent.  Its no Babadook or The Battery, but one of those that shows potential and could be one of those “B-Movie Types” that people praise Scream Factory and the like for releasing now-a-days.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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