Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (4)
| Top Critics (1)
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Too many of the arguments are whispered, too many settings are missing the horrific atmosphere the movie requires.
Good old fashioned special effects mixed with wicked gore, and a compelling story make "Altered" a great follow-up from the "Blair Witch" creators...
...generally comes off as an engaging and genuinely creepy little horror flick...
Devoted genre fans should feel free to give it a rental, but don't expect to be blown away.
I thought that this movie was a hoot! Maybe I was just in the mood for a gruesome, silly, sci-fi alien flick.
If Seinfeld is the show about nothing, Altered is the movie about nothing. These four friends were abducted by aliens fifteen years earlier, so these geniuses decide to get revenge by kidnapping one of the aliens. They accomplish their goal, but once they do, they don't know what to do with it and lock it in the garage. After that it becomes a slasher film where nothing significant really happens. Honestly, they kidnapped this thing and then don't know what to do with it, so then what's the point? To make things worse, we never see the abduction or find out what exactly happened to them up there. It's just an extremely dark and confusing hunting scene, which believe it or not features a harpoon, and then there is nothing else. As for the acting it is just as inconsistent as the story! One minute their going crazy, trying to kill each other and the next they're crying about old times, it's ridiculous! James Gammon is the only name in this thing, playing the sheriff in one of his last roles. The guys are so intimidated by the sheriff and when we finally see him, we find out he's this little eighty year old guy, are you kidding me? This movie is a complete disaster and an utter waste of time. Being that it's from the writer/director of The Blair Witch Project, I was expecting something as groundbreaking as that was, unfortunately, Altered isn't it and there is a good reason why you've probably never heard of it.
*** out of ****
The location is Florida; the middle of some woods that rests apparently not very far from or on a farm. Three men find themselves there at night, clearly hunting something. They bring with them high-tech weaponry and have traps already set all around them. If the dark shadows that linger nearby and sometimes make a peculiar noise before vanishing yet again are any indicator, what they are hunting is at least not of their own species. When one of these things falls into one of their traps (the famous rectangular-hole in the ground), we get confirmation that it isn't human. And these guys have got some serious beef with its race. The names of the men are Cody (Paul McCarthy-Boyington), Duke (Brad Henke), and Otis (Michael C. Williams). They bring the creature, alive, to their friend Wyatt's (Adam Kaufman) house.
So that officially makes four of them. Four men who we learn in due time were all at once abducted by the strange beings that dwell in the farmland forest about fifteen years ago. The beings (let's just go ahead and refer to them as aliens; that's what they are) took the life of a mutual friend, and now they are hungry for not only vengeance but answers. Once they're at and inside Wyatt's house, upsetting his girlfriend Hope, most of the action occurs there. They tie the alien down and cover its eyes with duct-tape so that it cannot influence the brains of the mortals present with its mind-controlling powers. They make an incision in its torso and emerge with an organ of some sort that will signal an entire army of extraterrestrials to its current location. It's only a matter of time before the shit hits the fan.
But what's a movie about people waiting for something to happen without an up-close-and-personal study of the people themselves? This is where Eduardo Sanchez's "Altered" is one of the best alien horror-thrillers since M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs"; the characters and the overall situation both feel incredibly real for a film that, at a glance, might seem to have bigger B-movie aspirations than it actually does. It's fun, sometimes quite gruesome and thoroughly creepy; but also surprisingly human. The film scores big in representing the grueling psychological effects that the abduction must have had on the boys; Wyatt appears to suffer the most.
I've heard word of the film being initially conceived as a horror-comedy. For the first half or so, it's a completely serious horror film that deals in ambiguity and claustrophobic tension. Within the second half, or whenever the aliens finally show themselves, it more or less becomes some embodiment of the film that Sanchez originally wanted it to be. In this second half, it gets over-the-top with rubber monsters and even a bizarre scene where a guy's life is in the hands of an alien with his bloody intestines in its own, until it all kind of simmers down in a somewhat disappointing and ultimately forgettable climax. Nevertheless, I enjoyed "Altered" throughout and found Sanchez's balancing of these different tones most impressive.
The film proves that there is life after "The Blair Witch Project" for Mr. Sanchez. He is clearly a talented filmmaker who knows how to turn rags into riches when it comes to his material (as exemplified brilliantly in that spooky first film of his). "Altered" is low-budget and low-key for the most part, but that never completely goes to its head. It does so much with what it's got, which doesn't seem like very much on the surface, and I admire it quite a bit. This isn't extraterrestrial, claustrophobic terror at the level of John Carpenter's "The Thing", but it's a whole lot smarter than you probably think it's going to be. I recommend it as long as you're one of those movie-goers who won't mind waiting for that thing to happen along with the characters so long as that thing is good payoff and the build-up is solid. In my honest opinion, the build-up here is more satisfactory than the payoff; but they can't all end well. It's the bulk of it that really counts.
Some spoilers here *************************************************************
Four friends in the deep south (or so I guess by their accents), face their fears and the past that haunts them. The result is a movie that has much more depth and suspense than the average straight to DVD movie.
Brothers Duke (Brad William Henke), Cody (Paul McCarthy Boyington), and Otis (Michael C. Williams) accomplish what they thought they would never be able to do. They trap one of the aliens that abducted them 15 years earlier and killed their brother. The problem that comes next is what to do next. A quick decision by Duke sends them towards their one time childhood friend Wyatt (Adam Kaufman) who was also with them during the abduction years earlier. More so, he is the only one that "they" seemed most interested in.
However, Wyatt upon learning of their capture wants nothing to do with the brothers or their capture. A paranoid who lives in a remote home surrounded by flood lights and with doors that can be locked various times, he himself has dealt with the abduction in his own way. Bringing them back to him is the last thing that he or his girlfriend Hope (Catherine Mangan) want. Even if they were the reason for the death of his best friend, Wyatt has done his best to move on.
Wyatt though becomes the center of the story as we discover that the aliens do have a certain desire for him even though we never fully know why that it is. He received an implant and somehow the ability to sense them. During the final confrontation with the alien that Duke and his brothers captured, it appears that Wyatt himself has mental powers which he uses to cripple the alien. Again we find no explanation though we can guess that the past abduction gave him powers which he used.
The conflict that fills Altered is not so much the alien vs man story that we are used to after years of sci movies. What makes Altered interesting is the relationship between four friends and how they dealt with an experience that only brought shame and ridicule. Much of Altered consists of conversations about the past and what was done and what should have been done. This is especially so between Wyatt and Cody where the latter especially feels remorse because of the belief that his father blamed him for the death of his brother. Hope herself also constantly bemoans any attempt to bring the past back into the present and struggles to understand why such aliens would show such interest in Wyatt in the first place.
The most important lines come at the very end of the movie. As Hope and Wyatt flee, she asks how safe they are now that they killed perhaps a dozen of their kind. Wyatt can only say that they will have to wait and see.
A soild straight to dvd film well worth checking out
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