Is there something out there? Is there life on other planets or are we alone in the universe? These are questions that mankind has had for centuries. And from these questions, we’ve made a lot of interesting (and sometimes not-so-interesting) fiction. Stories of visitors from the stars coming to Earth and making a connection. In some stories, as is the case with Ejecta, a new film from Foresight Features, these visitors are not all that friendly and the results are frightening. This past Tuesday saw the release of the film to DVD and I got the chance to check it out. It’s safe to say that after watching it, I didn’t get exactly what I was expecting.
Ejecta is the story of two men, reclusive blogger Bill Cassidy (played by the always entertaining Julian Richings) and documentary filmmaker Joe Sullivan (Adam Seybold), who witness an unexplained event on the eve of a historic solar storm known as the mass ejection. Shortly after this event, they come in contact with a mysterious life form that begins to stalk them as prey. The two must run for their lives as it hunts them across the rural countryside near Cassidy’s home. All the while, an unnamed government organization will stop at nothing to unearth the truth behind this extraterrestrial encounter.
Mixing found footage with a traditional conspiracy story, the film follows Riching’s Cassidy through a physically and emotionally draining journey that plays with time and narrative that sometimes shows the aftermath of a situation before we actually see the situation itself. It’s an interesting concept being played with here but not one that I feel is actually realized throughout the 82 minute running time.
When Ejecta was originally conceived, it was meant to be a found footage film only. It was designed to just focus on Richings and Seybold’s characters stuck on a farm with an alien that we only get glimpses of. And when you see the found footage portions of the film, that is what you get. But when directors Matt Wiele and Chad Archibald went to assemble the film, they realized that there wasn’t enough there to make a feature. So with screenwriter Tony Burgess, they created a second part to the movie that would be told in a more “film-like” style involving a secret organization that finds Cassidy after the events of the found footage story.
What’s interesting here is that both tales are interesting and compelling on their own but for some reason, just don’t mesh that well together. Where the found footage scenes are fast paced and crazy with their shaky-cam and low lighting, the scenes in the government facility are cold and calculated. Instead of creating an interesting juxtaposition, the film feels more like it’s at war with itself. The pacing stops dead in it’s tracks repeatedly. There is an attempt to marry the two worlds using “night-vision” sequences involving a crew of soldiers investigating the farmhouse and crash sites on Cassidy’s land, but it also falls flat as it looks more like cut scenes in a video game. There’s never really a moment when the film feels like it hits its stride.
The performances are also a bit lopsided as well. Julian Richings does what he does best and makes you feel his pain and emotion in every situation. He acts the shit out of dialogue that might be lacking in another actor’s hands. The same can be said for Lisa Houle, who plays the commanding officer in charge of the secret organization who’s detained Cassidy. She plays the character as always trying to remain in control, even when the world begins to fall down around her. At some points, it even looks like she’s having a bit of fun with it. The problem lies with Adam Seybold’s Joe Sullivan. In it’s original incarnation, Sullivan was to our window into the picture. He unfortunately comes off as more plot device that character as his only real importance is to react to the craziness and present some exposition. While he accomplishes the exposition fine, his reactions leave much to be desired.
While Ejecta is by no means a terrible film, it can’t make up it’s mind on what it wants to be. There are elements of horror at play to some effect. There’s also an interesting idea involving government experimentation and multiple visits from extraterrestrials that’s not properly explored that might have actually saved this picture. I commend the filmmakers’ ambition to take a low budget feature and give it some layers but I feel they missed the mark. Instead of creating a fuller, more realized world for the movie to live it, they gave us a disjointed plot and a number of throw-away characters and scenes that felt hollow half the time.
It’s safe to say that I would only recommend Ejecta to hardcore fans of Julian Richings and strong supporters of indie horror. For everyone else, there just isn’t enough here to grab onto. Ejecta is now available on DVD through Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!