Tom Doty Times Columnist
September 27, 2013
A family comes under attack from a bizarre force in this suburban shocker from the makers of “Insidious.”
This film starts out like a low key drama about the American family, circa 2012. Meet the Barretts. Dad has lost his job, due to downsizing, and mom is struggling to compensate as a realtor in a market where nobody is biting. Meanwhile, their oldest son, Jess, is rushing headlong into adolescence, while their youngest, Sammy, seems blissfully ignorant of their problems.
Strange events begin to plague their household, beginning with a mysterious mess on their kitchen floor. Mom suspects an intruder, so they make an adjustment in their budget and turn the security system back on. This action doesn’t stop a new incident that finds items stacked all over their living room floor in intricate piles that appear beyond the scope of their children’s talents.
Things get even freakier when all the photos disappear from their frames throughout the home. Soon, incidents are bleeding into their daytime activities. The most frightening occurs at a park outing, where Sammy begins to act strangely. He later states that he left his body and was not in control when the incident happened. This explanation offers little encouragement to Mom. She turns to the only obvious place to get help when money is low — the internet.
She finds out that their experiences aren’t exactly unique. Turns out, people have claimed to have had similar episodes which preceded aliens making contact with their families. Now Mom is really freaking out, but hubby thinks it all sounds too crazy.
Then a couple of more things happen. Mom herself loses four hours out of her life and is promptly laid off by her boss for things she said to new buyers during the blackout. Sammy starts sleepwalking and four flocks of birds slam into the house like it was covered in worms. Sadly, they are mistaken.
They decide to seek out an expert named Pollard. He gives them a checklist and they quickly determine they are being visited by aliens. Pollard also reveals that the ETs have a sinister purpose — to abduct one of their children. The man is so reasonable and matter-of-fact that they can’t help but take him seriously. They opt to stand fast and make any abduction impossible by staying together in one room and fortifying the house as if a zombie outbreak had been wished into existence by die hard “Walking Dead” fans.
The resulting confrontation is the climax, and it delivers on the shivers. Great stuff, and all thanks to a no-nonsense approach that treats the matter seriously. That means the family can’t turn to help from their neighbors, for fear of being labeled lunatics, so it is as much a drama about a family coming together as it is a horror movie.
That said, it is an excellent horror flick, with great visuals ,creepy effects and a shock ending that will leave you gasping for breath. Hats off to writer/director Scott Stewart for playing it straight and using capable actors who bring loads of realism to the material. Worth a look but the tone is uber-eerie so decide carefully if you want your kids to see this one.
2013. Rated PG-13.
“This is the reason we don’t self-diagnose on the internet.”
“Everybody knows eyes taste the best.”