Totally recommendable for Sci-Fi enthusiats, even it is not an easy film and you have to pay full attention, and be confortable with 'human' drama.
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: Clay Liford
FEATURING: Rebecca Spence, Amelia Turner, Matt Socia, Peter Greene, William Katt, Jenny Shakeshaft, Savanna Sears, Harry Goaz
GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION, HORROR
TAGS: aliens, body snatchers, body metamorphoses, parasitism, lesbianism, incest (note: no nudity)
RATING: 7 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: Alien slugs possess and copulate with humans in this brooding, complex, cross-genre horror yarn.
COMMENTS: Here's another unique gem of an independent film. With its shockingly unnatural quirks, Earthling will resonate with fans of David Cronenberg's early efforts such as The Brood and Scanners. Earthling is a horror movie with some meaning, not a profound, philosophical meaning, but enough to put the ghastliness in a context that makes it resonate.
Earthling is not a fast-paced blood-fest. Arty and pensive, the film plays out like a character study, interspersed with elements of horror. Featuring an alien possession theme familiar to fans of such thrillers as Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Night Of The Creeps, The Hidden, and Slither, Earthling takes a derivative idea and amps it up a notch, adding a degree of sophistication not seen in the aforementioned sci-fi entries. Earthling combines a multi-layered storyline, non-linear plot elements, touches of romance, lesbianism, and visceral sexual themes, with morbid body metamorphoses and grotesque, brain-inhabiting slugs, to produce a genuinely unique and offbeat viewing experience!
In Earthling, Rebecca Spence plays Judith, a schoolteacher who begins having bizarre flashbacks and dreams about people she's never met, and events she's never lived. Worse, her body is changing -she's discovered a couple of gnarly growths on either side of her forehead, right at the hairline -she's becoming horny and not in a fun way! Judith doesn't understand what's happening to her, but several creepy people who introduce themselves seem to know quite a bit. The answer has something to do with her mother's death, a mysterious lake, and a comatose astronaut (Matt Socia) who was rescued from the orbiting space station after all hell broke loose up there. One of Judith's new acquaintances, a morose girl named Abby (Amelia Turner), likes to lure women to that enigmatic lake for gruesome littoral bait and switch encounters. The glade hides a repellent secret and after Judith's initial oddball brush with her, Abby's underground entourage of weirdo pals start turning up in unlikely places, triggering a twisted series of sick coincidences.
With touches of the 1972 Solaris (that dissertation-length Soviet movie about a planet with a living consciousness that begins to take cosmonauts under its influence, remade in 2002 with George Clooney), Earthling spans the gap between sociological exploration and outright icky sci-fi horror. Slimy aliens love to screw, and they like to screw humans, and it turns out, vice versa, but exactly who are the aliens and who are the earthlings? Is there truly so much difference between them and us, and does it really matter? What does it mean to be human, anyway? Judith is about to find out. As eerie repressed memories surface, what Judith discovers about herself, her new "friends," and her past is more than she'd like to know.
Judith pieces things together and the movie becomes a bit murky and disjointed. Is this an attempt on the part of the filmmakers to be arty, or does it help us understand her confusion, putting us in her perspective as she struggles to make sense of what's happening? I think the later, and as we go through Judith's experience with her, effective characterization and credible motivations draw us into Judith's nightmare and cause us to ponder. This is the best kind of story -the kind that makes you think. Earthling manages to stay a step ahead of us. Its twists and turns lead to an imaginative unraveling of reality with an ending that isn't predictable.
Even better, the horror of Earthling is the incipient sort, a mounting dread of losing control to something terrible and disgusting that's already deep inside and inescapable. Earthling is uncanny and unsettling because it's filmed like a drama, one that presents a deceptively reassuring, here-and-now sense of the cheery sunlit world around us, but at moments, that world distorts and reveals awful things. The contrast provides a subtle intensity which is delightfully disturbing. What is reality, and how much of it is subjectively determined by the way we conceive of ourselves? When Judith peels back her own mask and looks underneath, she -and we -discover the blood, veins, and mortality which we normally gloss over. The result is the type of revulsion that makes us squirm, the kind we can't get away from, because the horror is us.
Earthling isn't as momentous as 2001: A Space Odyssey, but like that imaginative, existential exploration, Earthling doesn't just hand us the concept; it requires the viewer to do some work, and upon the initial viewing, we carry away a general rather than a specific sense of what's transpired. Earthling's ideas are engaging and give us pause. If you found a planet populated by lifeforms whose personalities and values you really relate to, would you choose to go native?
And if so, just how viscerally "native" would you be willing to go?
Spoiler Alert!! Like it would matter...basically, 10 minutes into the movie, baby squids/octopi start coming out of people's mouths, whereupon they take to the lake. Anytime someone comes near the lake, a "Jaws" like foreboding sound gets added to the soundtrack. This movie is beyond stupid. I hope some millionaire buys all the copies and makes a nice bonfire.
Judith recently had a miscarriage. It's left her traumatized in the form of being emotionally withdrawn. Her husband isn't happy with his wife becoming less interested in their marriage and her work life (she's a school teacher) is also on the rocks. It's until a new student named Abby enters the fray. She keeps eyeballing Judith like a lion to it's prey. At first you may think you're witnessing a forbidden lesbian romance between a student and teacher only to find out that it's something much more erotic: Aliens.
Some have compared this to a Cronenberg film, but it is so much more closer to Charles Burns graphic novel 'Black Hole'. It may not be entirely inspired by it, but the mood of the film immediately got me thinking of that book. I have always wanted to see that graphic novel brought to life and this might be the closes I'll ever have to seeing it. I mean there were a couple of scenes that reminded me of that book. Like for example the fact that these characters have large mutated bumps on their foreheads which are to resemble tumors, but could be perfectly placed in the form of horns like a devil or demon would have. So close to that book in tone, but so very far away.
After a strange disturbance on the International Space Station sends back it's only survivor, he shares a sort of psychic link between himself and Judith. Judith dreams about this astronaut and something has to do with him carrying apart of the spiky asteroid-like ball that had struck the I.S.S. It's never exactly straight forward with you in what this ball really is. Is it a rescue pod? Does it link them back to the home planet? You see Judith, Abby and a few others have known that they're not really human. They've taken the human form because of...well, I don't fucking know. I mean it's never really explained. All I could figure out was that they tried their best to keep away from the signal that is leading them to the spiky ball because they want to stay on Earth? Also there's some type of impregnation subplot that didn't add up either and Abby was really a husband to Judith on another planet and blah blah blah. It made no fucking sense in the end.
This film's artistic merits stand up well. I'll give it that. So does the first act of the film which was done wonderfully. BUT IT FALLS THE FUCK APART AROUND THE ONE HOUR MARK! It begins to become an incoherent mess. You can even see it in the faces of the actors that they themselves don't really know what the fuck they're saying. Yeah. They show A LOT of emotion, but you can just feel they're out of the loop as much as we are. That was disappointing. The acting is great though. Rebecca Spense who plays Judith holds the film together, but even she can't hold the film up in the last act. Amelia Turner who played Abby was incredible and I'll be keeping my eye out for her films. It's just too fucking bad that Clay Liford couldn't at least elaborate more on WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?! Instead he just has his characters spout of vague things that only THEY are more aware of then we are. It's starts off mysteriously beautiful before it evolved into a turd. A pretty turd, but a turd none the less.
Overall, this film had potential if it wasn't for the director's ADHD screenplay.
-If you've ever had intestinal worms, you probably also had an alien's spawn.
-Extraterrestrials are tourists with an exquisite appetite for human cuisine.
-Everyone's family tree/genealogy should be reevaluated by an exterminator.
-If you have bad bouts of acne, you should find others like you to find out what planet you are really from.