To a new generation of DIY horror fanatics, the cheesy 1980s are beginning to supplant the gory ’70s as a genre high point—take the Shining obsessives from 2012’s Room 237, or Ti West’s expertly eerie babysitter throwback The House of the Devil (2009). It might have been a decade dominated by Freddy and Jason, but these were peak days for John Carpenter and Stephen King.
Everything about writer-director Joe Begos’s supernatural thriller is retro-pitched to an exacting degree, starting with its suburban Maine locale—King territory—and prefatory credits: Both text and font indicate that we’re in October 1987. (Even his production company’s logo has a VHS clunkiness to it.) As for the story that unfolds two years later, about Spielbergian lights in the sky and bodily alien invasion, you’ve seen that before, too, and if you’re up for the ride, this works fine enough.
But scary? Not so much. One scene, an attempted tentacle-to-crotch rape, has a Re-Animator wildness to it, and the hero’s understated question to the victim afterward (“You all right?”) gets a laugh. Some of the voluminous attention paid to details, though, should have been spent on good old-fashioned shivers.
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