Alien Trespass: Sci-Fi Revival Without Cause

Making fun of old movies is a reliable and occasionally trenchant source of laughs—either from the sidelines, as with the MST3K crew, or by ad-libbing new lines, as with Jet City Improv's "Twisted Flicks" shows. But making a new, ersatz '50s sci-fi movie, absolutely straight and without camp, is a different matter. Created by a group of Bellingham filmmakers (one X-Files vet among them) and shot in Vancouver, B.C., this deadpan homage hardly lifts an eyebrow at the aliens, horny teens, eccentric scientists, and dopey lawmen in the small desert town where a flying saucer lands. We know these conventions, from The Blob to The Day the Earth Stood Still, which Alien Trespass dutifully recreates. But why? In the similar recent faux-retro Military Intelligence and You!, there was at least a dusting of satire. Cribbing from the same period, Todd Haynes turned melodrama into something grander with Far From Heaven. Only here we have the same space-age clichés, the same stock characters, the same slow-moving monsters that give everyone just enough time to run... and nothing else. As the town scientist, Will & Grace's Eric McCormack has his body appropriated by one of the alien trespassers (the nice one, unfortunately). Alas, this only recalls Vincent D'Onofrio in Men in Black, which gave the same template a much-needed overhaul. On DVD, however, this pointless genre exercise will—with the sound turned off—provide valuable training for future comedians. Because they can surely do better.

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