March 8, 2016 Alienated (Movie Review)
Though touted as a Science Fiction film, latest release Alienated from Writer/Director Brian Ackley (Cookies & Cream 2008, Uptown 2009) and Producer Princeton Holt (Uptown 2009, Chloe 2013) is best described as a story/character driven movie. Winner of a list of awards, released by One Way or Another Productions and Fades 2 Black Media Group, Alienated will hit theaters as of March 25, 2016, as well as VOD as of March 31st via Gravitas Ventures. Filmed in Plainfield, New Jersey, with a running time of eighty minutes, the entire movie is carried by a cast of three, Nate (George Katt: Red Sheep 2012, Unforgettable series), his wife Paige (Jen Burry: The Elegant Clockwork of the Universe 2013, Reunion 108 2013), and their neighbor Griffin (Taylor Negron: The Last Boy Scout 1991, Stuart Little 1999).
At the beginning, Nate, an artist, views and tapes a UFO outside the rural home. The sight disturbs yet intrigues him, and he struggles to understand what it might mean. Paige works various shifts in an emergency room, meaning Nate and Paige do not often get to spend time together. To add to Nate’s daily concerns, he lost his best friend recently. He subsequently painted a picture for best friend’s wife as a tribute, which includes a self portrait of Nate. He plans a trip to Naples to hand deliver the painting to his friend’s wife, something Paige fails to understand. Nate often shows other people his work before her, and has never completed a piece for Paige. From the beginning, it is clear Nate and Paige’s marriage is strained.
Despite their conflicts, Nate attempts to discuss the UFO sighting with Paige, who is skeptical and does not make an effort to see Nate’s video evidence. This acts as a catalyst for the destruction of their relationship, bringing to the forefront some depended regrets, and frustrations between them. Each day, Nate researches UFOs and attempts to understand the meaning of what he saw. All the while, the tension between he and Paige amplifies. Nate seeks advice from Griffin as the threads of their marriage unravel. Before long, the truth is they have long held on for the sake of love escape. Neither of them know where they stand, but when the UFO returns, will it be too late to save them from each other and what is coming?
While there is the Science Fiction element to the story, it is in the background and serves to drive the plot and characters forward rather than being the focus. This may frustrate viewers who are ready to watch the latest alien abduction movie, as the film is predominantly focused on the relationship between Paige and Nate, and how they cope throughout changes in their lives. The arguments between them are realistic, and for any viewer having been through a troubled relationship, it will pluck a chord.
Their brutal honesty can be confronting, and what the viewer witnesses is the destruction of a relationship pushed beyond its capabilities. The story of Alienated is set in modern times, and is carried well by the cast. The special effects by Cabral Zimele-Keita, are his debut as a feature film, relate to the UFO, and are excellent. The title sequence hints at what is to come, and provides a curious atmosphere for the rest of the film.
The cinematography by Donald Murray (Little Man 2014, Demonico 2017) is steady and keeps pace with the scene changes. It happens to be funny man Negron’s last film and perhaps one of his deepest characters of his lengthy career. Overall, Alienated is slow moving, building to an intense climax, which, while answers some questions, leaves others open. Ackley is certainly a Writer/Director to watch out for, and for those viewers looking for a more cerebral storyline, Alienated is it. CrypticRock.com gives this movie 3.5 out of 5 stars.
See Alienated in theaters and purchase tickets here