REVIEW: When a super-storm of intense solar flares punctures Earth's atmosphere one ill-fated night, an old alien-abductee and a young filmmaker witness unspeakable extraterrestrial horror.
PLOT: After emblazoning his tire-marks on the Canadian horror scene with PONTYPOOL and SEPTIC MAN, writer Tony Burgess has hit quite an unpleasant speed-bump with his newly scripted film EJECTA - a slight, overly-simplistic single-act UFO doomsday attempt from directors Chad Archibald and Matt Wiele. Cut more from the cloth of a micro-budgeted sci-fi TV episode than a thoughtfully fleshed-out feature film, EJECTA feels far too insignificant in every conceivable aspect to warrant much memorability. It feels quite minor while watching it - aesthetically amateurish with shakily hand-held first-person footage, filtered in green like a goddamn Hilton porno - and feels even less important after its limp 77 minutes have run its course. Outside of a decent performance or two and sparse use of its freakish extraterrestrial creature, EJECTA is likely to be less apt in describing the furor of solar flares than what you're bound to do with your video-disc once the flick is over.
Okay, so as the film picks up, Earth's atmosphere is on the brink of intergalactic bombardment by a super-storm of hellish solar flares. The title EJECTA refers to a mass coronal ejection - fiery lava bursts hot enough to pierce the atmosphere and render irreparable cataclysm across the globe. But that's just the half of it. Hitching a ride on these smoldering sun-flares is a race of malefic extraterrestrial intent on human extinction. Bearing witness to this maddening fire in the sky is William Cassidy (Julian Richings), a creepily gaunt looking fella who, for the last 30 years or so, has publicly recounted a horrific alien abduction he suffered as a young man. It seems Cassidy is still being hunted by the mysterious breed of alien, if for no other reason than to use him as a communicative pawn for the rest of the race. Chronicling this phenomenon is Joe Sullivan (Adam Seybold), an aspiring filmmaker and UFO fanatic, as well as Dr. Tobin (Lisa Houle), a sexy leather-clad scientist with her own nefarious ploy to, if not simply seek answers, subvert the alien arrival. Who, if anyone, will make it out alive?
If that sounds confounding, trust me, it's even more so. There are basically two timelines we flash back and forth to during the film, yet I can honestly say I had difficulty discerning which one of them was the present. Really, for a movie this flimsy, this devoid of a sturdy three-act structure, that's a problem. It shouldn't be this confusing or laborious to follow. One minute we're with Bill at his secluded farmhouse prior to the Ejecta - found-footage style - and the next minute we see him getting torturously tested in Dr. Tobin's seemingly subterranean but unknown locale. Back and forth. Forth and back. Both of these strands revolve around what essentially occurs in the final ten minutes of the film, the actual extraterrestrial attack upon the scorching rain of hellfire. But by then it's too little too late, too incompetent and incongruous to really care. Is it a post-apocalyptic disaster flick or an alien invasion yarn? Why both with so few resources? Additionally, the cumbersome budgetary constraints clearly hamper the flick's anticlimactic action sequence, replete with chintzy, unconvincing VFX and overall lackluster spectacle.
Strong points of the flick though lie primarily in its casting. Awarding a lead-role to longtime bit player and Canadian folk-hero Julian Richings, who has well over 160 acting credits dating back to 1987, was somewhat inspired, though he was hardly given enough here to prove he has the chops to do so again. His emaciated frame and sharp facial features are eerily unnerving on their own, sure, but as far as material is concerned, Richings deserves better. I also found Lisa Houle to be an utter joy to watch, she never seems to be taking the script too austerely, which lightens the load and makes the film a bit more fun when she's onscreen. Passed that, I thought the slightly varied production design of the menacing aliens themselves to be pretty cool - bug-eyed, big-headed, semi-scaly - but even cooler in how limited the creatures were depicted onscreen. It's the JAWS effect, showing the monster as little as possible until you absolutely have to, that seemed to benefit EJECTA from a suspense standpoint...a source of tension that is sadly never matched when the creatures are ultimately unveiled in the final ten minutes or so.
When all is said, I can't conscionably give you enough of a reason to peep EJECTA. Certainly not as a feature film, and only perhaps as a qualified low-budget sci-fi TV episode. Because really, beyond a couple of key casting choices and a modicum of mounted tension surrounding the late alien invasion, EJECTA feels far too malnourished and undercooked to comfortably digest. It simply doesn't sit well, neither during nor afterward. It's a conflated one-act muddle, about as nonsensical as its title, riddled with cryptic exposition, cheap looking visuals and too many jumps in time. It's unfortunate, because after two promising prior flicks - PONTYPOOL and SEPTIC MAN - there's little doubt of this being a gross misstep for beloved Canadian genre writer Tony Burgess. Directors Chad Archibald and Matt Wiele, working together for the first time, certainly didn't acquit their newfound directorial partnership very well either. Disappointing.