EJECTA (October 29th)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
Back in the day – and what I mean by that is a couple of years ago – I used to have a LoveFilm subscription. Before streaming started to up its game, they were a pretty useful way of watching new releases and older titles that you wanted to watch, but didn't want to commit to buying them on DVD. When they folded I instantly switched to Cinema Paradiso, even though at that point I had both Netflix. Prime and a Cinema pass. I think it's partly because my folks used to own a video rental store and there's some sense of nostalgia in having physical DVDs to watch. I mean, outfits like LoveFilm are what proved to be the final nail in the coffin for my parent's video shop (and all video shops come to that) but they still somehow feel a part of the world of physical media that is fast becoming lost. Anyway, two DVDs got popped through my letterbox the other day from Cinema Paradiso. One of them was Under The Silver Lake, the sophomore feature from IT Follows Director David Robert Mitchell. However it's not strictly horror and at 140 minutes long, it's more of a Sunday afternoon jobby. So I watched the other film that they sent, which was Canadian sci-fi horror Ejecta (Boy, I've unwittingly seen a few Canadian horrors during this challenge)
Amateur film-maker Joe Sullivan gets an email one night from a guy named William Cassidy, a man infamous for claiming he was abducted by aliens many years ago. Cassidy has been a recluse for a long time so Sullivan is doubly excited when the email lists Cassidy's home address. Joe heads up there, hoping to get an exclusive interview but is confused when Cassidy claims to have never contacted him or even heard of him. Regardless, he agrees to talk to Joe and tells him that the upcoming solar flare and resulting coronal mass ejection will mess up all electronic devices on earth. We then flash forward in time to late that night where Cassidy has been taken into custody by a group of soldiers and is then interrogated by a rather sadistic scientist type called Dr Tobin. Her efforts to extract information out of a terrified Cassidy are paused however when the soldiers on site discover Sullivan's (who has gone missing) footage. Tobin reviews the footage and as she does, she soon realises that they all might be in imminent danger...
Whenever I am choosing what film to watch on streaming platforms, I will invariably take a look at the general audience consensus before making a final call. I am willing to take a punt on a film that's got very mixed reviews but if a film is generally derided I am usually pretty hesitant. If I had stumbled across Ejecta on Netflix and looked some up, there's a good chance I wouldn't have watched it. Which would have been a bit of a blessing in retrospect.
It's one of the most frustrating films I have seen in a little while, partly because there are flashes of a good movie in there in places. Director Chad Archibald's other films include Antisocial and The Drownsman, which are both ok but this feels like a big misstep. Tony Burgess, who wrote Pontypool (a film I think a lot of) penned the script for this too which makes it all even more disappointing. The narrative is pretty much split into three separate timelines and it all feels rather unnecessary and only acts to diffuse some of the tension that is occasionally built in the found footage segments. These provide by far the best moments of the film (who said found footage was dead?) and give us a couple of really effective jump moments. However, it's guilty of doing something that really just irks me whenever I encounter not just because it's really annoying but because it's so bloody avoidable as well. It's the hallmark of a bad movie and of film-makers who perhaps don't feel secure enough to let the actors and the script do their own thing. And that's the god damn score. Firstly, it's a bit odd to have a score in what is partly a found footage/documentary film and especially weird when there is even soundtrack during the found footage scenes. But it's the 'present day' segment, which makes up about half of the movie where the problems really lay. I feel sorry for Julian Richings (Cassidy) and Lisa Houle (Tobin) because basically all of their exchanges are drowned out by a sub standard SyFy quality track that feels the need to remind us that what we are watching is a tense science fiction movie. It ruins the mood and it just feels amateur. Sound design and score are one of those things that if done well, you quite often don't notice it. It's taken for granted but it's a really important part of film-making. When it isn't done right however, it sticks out like a sore thumb and just becomes distracting. So distracting that after about fifteen minutes, I had already established that it was going to do it all the way through the film and mentally checked out a bit.
In terms of plot, it doesn't offer up anything new or interesting either and the finale is suitably underwhelming. But I didn't really care at that point, I just wanted the ordeal to be over. I'm glad I didn't end the challenge with this film and might make a point of watching an old favourite tomorrow to ejecta it from my system. See what I did there?!