It's a two-fer, since I had no time to turn on my computer yesterday, and thus no BHE review! I was at a TEDx conference. Pretty cool.
Okay, so I have actually seen this before. But it’s Bruce Campbell! I wasn’t sure I had seen the whole thing (not a good sign?), so I watched it. It’s definitely not his best work, or even good work in any way, although he is the best thing in the movie by a mile. He isn’t doing his usual wisecracking, he’s basically just a tough-guy criminal, but he actually plays it realistically and well, unlike every other person in the movie. Let’s be clear: this is a SyFy Original Movie, made for TV, and it looks the part. So cheap, so crappy, no money wasted on actors. It looks like an episode of Wings gone horribly wrong.
The plot is that there’s a big blizzard so everybody at this little airport is stuck there for the night. Bruce is a convict who was being transported by car nearby, and their car failed, so they had to walk him to the airport. He goes to the bathroom along with the cops guarding him, and an alien disguised as a priest tries to kill them all. He does kill the cops, but of course you can’t stop Bruce Campbell, who smashes the alien to death. The rest of the movie consists of him sort-of holding the other airport denizens hostage (but most of the time he gives them the guns, so I’m not sure why they are still kowtowing to him), while all of them wonder who among them is secretly an alien. One by one they ferret out the aliens, or in some cases the aliens just decide to transform into big rubbery creatures right in front of them, and they kill the aliens.
It’s so hard to discuss what is good or bad about this movie. It’s a terrible movie, of course. And the writing especially is awful, but what’s strange about that is that there are a lot of good ideas in there. The overall premise is certainly good - there’s a lot of tension in knowing some of them are aliens (and the priest-alien explicitly declared in a fit of masterful writing “We don’t like you”, so you know they’re not aliens that like us!), and the paranoia that causes. There are also some clever scenes, most notably that they decide to use the baggage X-ray to scan each other and see if they can see who’s an alien, which leads to another clever idea: a fight inside the x-ray where all you can see are the snapshots it takes every couple of seconds, eventually seeing somebody get dismembered. And that further makes one more clever idea, which is that that ends up breaking the machine, so while they found one alien that way, and cleared two or three normal people of aliendom, the rest of the people are still unclear.
That one scene is just all kinds of clever (except for the very odd decision to make the X-ray start beeping and freaking out when an alien went through it - the fact that the body contained green goo instead of a skeleton was sufficient for me), and there’s also a good little twist involving the children which is well-written and comes as a surprise, but you could’ve figured it out yourself. It just makes solid sense. But the rest of the movie is full of utterly brain-dead characters doing stupid things. It’s hard to watch a movie where every character is so phenomenally dumb. It really makes you wonder about the intelligence of the writer. Like if he thinks these are the kind of choices a normal person would make, does that mean he’s that dumb and they’re the choices he would make? Or perhaps he’s not that dumb, and he just thinks he’s better than everyone else, so he assumes other people are. Either way, it’s not good.
My Movie Idea:
Well, let’s give Bruce Campbell a role he belongs in! How about he’s the captain of a spaceship. It’s an ark ship, filled with people in stasis (including him - it’s a thousand-year journey, so everybody’s sleeping), and the crew is unfrozen mid-flight when the computer detects a problem. There’s something attached to the hull, and after some suiting up and spacewalking, and the death of whoever does the spacewalk, they discover that it’s some kind of alien blob with tendrils injecting into the hull, cracking things open and getting inside. They come up with some radical plan to burn it off with the engines or something, which succeeds, and it’s gone. So good.
They set about trying to fix the hull damage it caused, only to find that there are bits of it still burrowing through the hull (somebody else dies finding this out, sure!). Eventually we discover that the burrowing tentacles are getting into the stasis pods and turning the people inside into freaky twisted zombies who smash out of the pod and run around the spaceship, crawling on the ceilings and contracting their bodies to squeeze through small vents and other weird inhuman things. Bruce and his remaining crew set about blasting the aliens with high-tech guns and being stalked in dark corridors and all the good stuff that happens in Aliens movies. And lots of one-liners. Probably culminating in Bruce alone getting away in an escape pod while the entire ship is destroyed. I don’t know though, that’s pretty bleak if you had a thousand people on board.
Okay, it’s not the most original, but it could be done well, and it gives Bruce his chance to shine where he deserves it - in a high-budget, really scary but really funny, action-horror thriller.