The Recall (Movie Review)

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

PLOT: A cabin-in-the-woods getaway is ruined by an alien invasion.

REVIEW: Director Mauro Borrelli's sci-fi thriller THE RECALL has four credited writers, but it starts out in a way we've all seen countless times before. Aside from a prologue featuring astronauts in space, the opening twenty minutes or so of this film consist of the typical "cabin in the woods" horror movie set-up. A group of college-age kids hit the road for an outdoorsy vacation, there's the horny couple and the couple who are just starting to get to know each other, and when they reach their destination there's the weird-ass local. The only positive thing about any of this is the fact that said local is played by Wesley Snipes, chewing the scenery as an antagonistic hunter.

While the characters get up to the usual business of having sex and snooping around strange locations they don't belong in, we start to get hints that there's something a little more interesting going on around them. That scene with the astronauts tipped it off; this isn't a slasher or a demonic possession story, it's going to become an alien invasion story. Mysterious cloud formations appear around the world, massive space ships emerge, alien creatures are dropped down to the surface, we cut away to government officials trying to figure out how to deal with the problem, the presence of the aliens starts to have an effect on the minds of some of the characters… And there's this unshakable feeling that THE RECALL is going to fumble the pay-off to this suddenly intriguing build-up.

There is an effectively creepy moment when one of the cabin kids sees an alien for the first time. He steps in some kind of slime, goes to take a closer look at what he stepped in, and spots an alien lurking beneath the floorboards. That is truly the moment when the movie reaches its peak. Nothing that follows is as good as that moment, not even when characters are taken on board an alien ship for a sequence that's like FIRE IN THE SKY crossed with THE MATRIX.

Unfortunately, the comparison to THE MATRIX has nothing to do with that film's action sequences. If you loved watching Wesley Snipes fight vampires in the BLADE films back in the day, I regret to inform you that THE RECALL does not deliver on the potential of having him fight aliens in a similar fashion. Although the hunter is well aware of the alien threat and is prepared to take them on, setting up booby-traps and toting a shotgun, this film doesn't have much to offer in the way of Snipes vs. alien action, or action in general.

Even though he doesn't beat the hell out of any aliens like I would like him to, Snipes is still the highlight of the film, elevating every scene he's in with his presence and attitude while dropping lines that I have to assume were improv, like "Keep yappin', see what happen" and asking an injured kid he has no sympathy for where the cheese is to go with his whine.

The other cast members do what they can with what they're given. Jedidiah Goodacre, Laura Bilgeri, RJ Mitte, Hannah Rose May, and Niko Pepaj all brought the vacationing characters to life in the best way possible, the writing just doesn't hold up. When things should be really kicking into gear, the filmmakers start making odd, frustrating choices. For example, having the girl who seems to be developing a connection to the aliens get killed off first, and having Goodacre's character decide to reveal the tragic back story he's been keeping secret at a point in the film when something more exciting should be happening. There are aliens stalking the woods and yet it's not thrilling or suspenseful, the characters are just stumbling around and having conversations.

There are some interesting ideas at the core THE RECALL, ideas involving aliens and human evolution, and these come into play heavily in the film's final scenes. That ends the film on a more positive note, but doesn't make up for the fact that the movie let me down when it really counted: it put aliens and Wesley Snipes in a dark forest together and made the situation really dull to sit through.

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.