Film Review: ALIENATED (2015)

Film Review: ALIENATED (2015)

Apr 14, 2016

IMDb: Alienated (2015)
Director: Brian Ackley
Stars: George Katt, Jen L. Burry, Taylor Negron

Complete with everything needed to trap you into spending your money on a sci-fi film, Alienated, the latest film from director Brian Ackley, involves a plot centering on a family whose relationship is swirling down the drain while dealing with a UFO sighting. The one sheet for the film has a very dystopian look that features Star Trek style font with lightning, dark clouds, and a major metropolis. With very little sci-fi to be had, Alienated instead delivers the well worn concepts of a family drama with shoehorned concepts and a film that leaves you feeling dumber after having watched it.

Opening with the sole special effects shot in the entire film, Nate (George Katt) happens to see a glowing shape in the distant sky, or an “alien spaceship” as he so intellectually divulges to his wife. After that scene, it will take roughly 40 minutes before we get another glimmer of anything science fiction related. Instead, Ackley offers large sequences where a couple slowly unravels in a “we are too self centered to care about anyone else” kind of way. Watching Nate and his wife Paige (Jen Burry) argue over nonsensical things like Eddie Murphy hosting the Oscars, using hot water when washing the dishes, the difference between inviting 6 people and 8 people, and so on is one of the most burdensome tasks to ask of a viewer. This rigorous and uninteresting display of a relationship drama is incredibly frustrating as it does little to move the plot or build a reason to keep watching the film past the half hour mark.

After another tiring fight, Nate heads outside where he meets his neighbor, played by the character actor Taylor Negron in what would be his final performance, and muses on things like astral projection. I’m sure the writer had every intent to make a philosophical statement here about Nate and Paige’s relationship, a fact that becomes hilariously clear by the time the film wraps, instead it comes off as the ramblings of a stoned thirteen year old. Nate returns inside to tell his wife of the neighbor which leads into yet another argument. This is the back and forth nature of the film, the two actors argue about how one doesn’t engage in their life and the other gives reason why that one doesn’t. All of these arguments are given with no conclusion or resolution. Even the film itself avoids any clear goal other than asserting Nate’s dominance over Paige, which I’ll get to in a minute. With no resolution or intrigue to any of the thematic elements that are presented, Ackley gives us a film that is as meaningless as the relationship that this film focuses on.

Later on, Paige, through dialogue of course, will reveal that Nate is a bit of a conspiracy nut although his crazy is never poised as being crazy. Paige doubts him and thinks he is delusion, but by the end of the film, Ackley has done everything within his power to make Nate the clear victor in all of this. The victory comes in the form of Paige being just a petty, jealous wife who admits in the final moments of the film that Nate was right, he was always right. In an earlier moment in the film, Paige takes a bath that is interrupted with Nate having to piss. The way this long piss is shot is to give the impression that Nate is pissing on Paige. If I didn’t know any better, I would assume that Ackley was subtly conveying Nate’s dominance over her. It is easy to give him the benefit of the doubt as Ackley’s talent doesn’t even stretch far enough to utilize proper blocking and framing in a film and squeezes a performance from George Katt that is akin to a community theater reading of Webster’s Dictionary.

Unkept promises notwithstanding, Alienated can be forgiven for billing a drab drama as a sci-fi film, but it cannot be forgiven for the horrendous handling of a family that is falling apart. Horror and science fiction narratives that place the human element first are the type that transcend the genre, but in order to do this, you must have a story to tell and it must be executed well. The dialogue is a garbled mess and Alienated plays like a couple’s therapy session from the eyes of immature adults unable to think and see past themselves. The shoehorned sci-fi elements are too little too late and the subtle sexist moments are just baffling.