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It seems the alien invasion genre has become stuck in a rut of sorts, Arrival excluded, though that was hardly a typical invasion. The tropes established, there seems little that studios can do but rehash what’s been done before in varying shades of the same colors, so it’s a little refreshing to see something different, even if it’s not exactly great. The Recall is an invasion and abduction film but it’s also a cabin in the woods movie and while the story is by far the most compelling thing going for this, it doesn’t do either aliens or horror as well as it might, leaving this a disappointment.
In typical horror movie fashion, a carload of attractive young people head to the woods to spend the weekend in various states of undress. And naturally, they stop at a backwoods gas station first where they have their first run in with a local, an unnamed hunter (Wesley Snipes) who comes to give the kids a right scare before they run off and make it to their place by the lake. It’s not long after though when the campers and the hunter have to join forces when it’s clear that the world is under attack by an alien invasion and are pulling people right off the surface and straight up into their ships. But the hunter has a terrible secret, one linked with the aliens and as the kids fight for survival, he’s got plans of his own.
Directed by Mauro Borrelli, The Recall has a great idea and even a few good chills but is tonally all over the place, sometimes feeling like it wants to be campy fun while also attempting some genuine bits of horror and action that leave the movie mostly in imbalance. The scares works best, with some truly good jumps and a few solid moments that might otherwise have rescued this from being a total wash, but there are just too many other issues that weaken it to truly make it be effective. The larger problem is the that there’s not much for scale here, the budget low enough that nearly the entire invasion is localized to just these few players, and while some movies do that right, such as M. Night Shyamalan‘s Signs, here, it feels a necessity rather than a story choice. It does take us at one point into the the belly of a ship and very nearly comes to capitalizing on the premise, yet if you’ve seen Robert Lieberman‘s 1993 alien abduction film Fire in the Sky, you’ve seen better.
That’s not to say all is bad here. The aliens are appropriately nasty and Borrelli manages to get some good looking shots amid it all. Jedidiah Goodacre as Charlie and Laura Bilgeri as Annie come off best as two of the campers while Snipes is well over the top throughout, though subtlety has never been his forte. Playing it a bit like Schwarzenegger in Predator, he is mostly a cameo but is the best reason to watch, delivering one liners in gravel-toned sneers. The rest of the film however is surprisingly dull, lacking the momentum of a real sci-fi thriller, especially in the final act, which hopes to be ambiguous but comes off all too predictable. More like a cable movie of the week, The Recall has some sharp moments but is unfortunately a letdown that only hardcore genre fans may enjoy.
Movie description: The Recall is 2017 sci-fi thriller about a group of teens who spend the weekend in a lakeside cabin as an alien invasion forces them into a battle for their lives.
Director(s): Mauro Borrelli
Actor(s): Wesley Snipes, RJ Mitte, Jedidiah Goodacre