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This film is a pseudo sci-fi story about a woman who finds out - slowly - that she is in fact an alien; Earthling begins with a sequence aboard an orbital space station, with a mysterious object coming close to it and bringing chaos to the station - a lone survivor goes mad, calling mission control and telling them to "stay away" and "do not try to rescue us". Setting the tone for hard-core sci-fi, the real film begins with Judith, a college teacher, who is in hospital following a car crash - of which she does not remember, apparently because of her long-standing epilepsy. Lost in the car crash was also her unborn baby, which puts Judith in a period of extreme grief and near hallucinations.
During this self-destructive period, Judith begins to realise that "something is not right", and a new character is introduced to quicken the pace and guide the protagonist towards the realisation that she is in fact an alien - and so are many others - living "in disguise" on earth.
Now.. for the review. Earthling has at least two great points i can think of: it's acted superbly - we're not talking Hollywood tripe here, more like Tolstoy than Bay - and it's got a striking soundtrack.
Yes, i myself hate when a soundtrack is given such importance - after all, films are visual, and a soundtrack should add to the product, not be so prominent as to become an entity of itself - but together with the strong acting Earthling manages to create a truly intense atmosphere of anxiety and expectation. And unfortunately, this is where it all goes wrong - the atmosphere works against the film.
After all the plot points have been laid down, circa 50 minutes in, the great expectations of sci-fi awesomeness are shattered when the film runs dry.
I see how Earthling must have been someone's great first project and as that it's great, yet not perfect; one part of the filmmaker's job is to make sure that there is enough plot to keep the story going, and here there just isn't. The Astronaut's Wife saved the juicy bits for the last five minutes and it was a failure; The Man from Earth instead understood that if you don't have anymore sci-fi content, it's a good choice to move along and change the pace. Unfortunately Earthling doesn't do that, but tries to stick with the sci-fi theme even when the story calls for some serious eye-candy bonanza, of which there is none, and that's the end of the story.
Good direction, short-changed story, mediocre production, superb acting (if traditional), and a mesmerising soundtrack, worth a watch for anyone who is into filmmaking;
My final vote, 6/10 - watch it.
Earthling is not a fast-paced blood-fest. Arty and pensive, the film plays out like a character study, interspersed with elements of horror. Featuring an alien possession theme familiar to fans of such thrillers as Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Night Of The Creeps, The Hidden, and Slither, Earthling takes a derivative idea and amps it up a notch, adding a degree of sophistication not seen in the aforementioned sci-fi entries. Earthling combines a multi-layered storyline, non-linear plot elements, touches of romance, lesbianism, and visceral sexual themes, with morbid body metamorphoses and grotesque, brain-inhabiting slugs, to produce a genuinely unique and offbeat viewing experience! In Earthling, Rebecca Spence plays Judith, a schoolteacher who begins having bizarre flashbacks and dreams about people she's never met, and events she's never lived. Worse, her body is changing -she's discovered a couple of gnarly growths on either side of her forehead, right at the hairline -she's becoming horny and not in a fun way! Judith doesn't understand what's happening to her, but several creepy people who introduce themselves seem to know quite a bit. The answer has something to do with her mother's death, a mysterious lake, and a comatose astronaut (Matt Socia) who was rescued from the orbiting space station after all hell broke loose up there. One of Judith's new acquaintances, a morose girl named Abby (Amelia Turner), likes to lure women to that enigmatic lake for gruesome littoral bait and switch encounters. The glade hides a repellent secret and after Judith's initial oddball brush with her, Abby's underground entourage of weirdo pals start turning up in unlikely places, triggering a twisted series of sick coincidences.
With touches of the 1972 Solaris (that dissertation-length Soviet movie about a planet with a living consciousness that begins to take cosmonauts under its influence, remade in 2002 with George Clooney), Earthling spans the gap between sociological exploration and outright icky sci-fi horror. Slimy aliens love to screw, and they like to screw humans, and it turns out, vice versa, but exactly who are the aliens and who are the earthlings? Is there truly so much difference between them and us, and does it really matter? What does it mean to be human, anyway? Judith is about to find out. As eerie repressed memories surface, what Judith discovers about herself, her new "friends," and her past is more than she'd like to know.
Judith pieces things together and the movie becomes a bit murky and disjointed. Is this an attempt on the part of the filmmakers to be arty, or does it help us understand her confusion, putting us in her perspective as she struggles to make sense of what's happening? I think the later, and as we go through Judith's experience with her, effective characterization and credible motivations draw us into Judith's nightmare and cause us to ponder. This is the best kind of story -the kind that makes you think. Earthling manages to stay a step ahead of us. Its twists and turns lead to an imaginative unraveling of reality with an ending that isn't predictable.
Even better, the horror of Earthling is the incipient sort, a mounting dread of losing control to something terrible and disgusting that's already deep inside and inescapable. Earthling is uncanny and unsettling because it's filmed like a drama, one that presents a deceptively reassuring, here-and-now sense of the cheery sunlit world around us, but at moments, that world distorts and reveals awful things. The contrast provides a subtle intensity which is delightfully disturbing. What is reality, and how much of it is subjectively determined by the way we conceive of ourselves? When Judith peels back her own mask and looks underneath, she -and we -discover the blood, veins, and mortality which we normally gloss over. The result is the type of revulsion that makes us squirm, the kind we can't get away from, because the horror is us.
Earthling isn't as momentous as 2001: A Space Odyssey, but like that imaginative, existential exploration, Earthling doesn't just hand us the concept; it requires the viewer to do some work, and upon the initial viewing, we carry away a general rather than a specific sense of what's transpired. Earthling's ideas are engaging and give us pause. If you found a planet populated by lifeforms whose personalities and values you really relate to, would you choose to go native? And if so, just how viscerally "native" would you be willing to go?
A woman (teacher) lost her baby in a car crash and gets depressed. A transfer student shows up and there seems to be some sort of grim connection between them. Meanwhile she notices some weird "tumors" on her head like baby devil horns. This apparently is how they chose to differentiate between humans and aliens in this movie.
... Lots of boring bla bla. Near the end apparently she and others are aliens that were drawn to earth because of certain feelings they did not know like (cliche) love, which they wanted to experience for themselves. So they set out to live on earth as humans instead of worm like creatures (how they ever managed space travel is a complete mystery). But somehow or for some reason their memories have been wiped.
Now the rest I'm not sure about. But I think what was going on was that there was some sort of rescue probe drawing them to it to take them home but they had to sort of fight that attraction if they wanted to stay!? More I can't really make of it without re-watching it but that I'm not going to do. Was too boring to begin with. I'd rather pop in an old epi of Farscape or some other decent sci-fi instead of this dren :)
The holes in the dialog were so big that at one point I had to rewind to watch the run-up to one scene three times to make sure I hadn't missed something. It turns out I hadn't missed anything - it was either another gaping hole in the dialog or the editor went mad and took a meat axe to it.
If the plot got any vaguer this flick wouldn't have one. It's a low-budget, miserable failure. Save yourself the cost of the video hire. Watching paint dry is more entertaining.
Oh, and don't let the mention of Close Encounters or Stargate mislead you into believing this is actually a sci-fi flick. It isn't. It's more of a weird drama that tries to ask "what makes us human?"
The first half of the movie is appropriately mysterious, so far so good, but as soon as the script brings about attempts to clarify the back story, bit by bit, "Earthling" starts falling apart, because some major confusion starts setting in. I would estimate that only approximately 30% of what is "explained" (ha ha) is comprehensible. The rest is verbal junk, clumsily written.
The writer/director was clearly too incompetent in explaining the story to the viewer through the awful flashbacks and messy dialogue, i.e. both in the verbal and visual department, hence he should then have not tried at all and kept the aliens' background mysterious. Either that, or he should have simply asked someone more adept in writing screenplays to help him with the movie, because he clearly doesn't have a grasp of the barest essentials in letting a mystery unfold. "Scriptwriting For Dummies", that's the book I'll get him for Christmas.
Otherwise, it's not a bad film. Not terribly original, what with its over half-a-century old "body snatchers from space" basic premise, but fairly entertaining thanks to a few small touches of originality here and there and a female cast that tries.
Speaking of which, the actors mumbling through some of the dialogue didn't help matters either. So when I said that they "try", I meant that they tried to open their mouths to form the words that make up their lines, because I suspect that the director either drugged them or glued their lips together. Or perhaps they were a little embarrassed about the confusing nonsense that was coming out of their mouths, they didn't want to be understood.
Combine the muddled dialogue, the confusing flashbacks, and the actors' mumbling, and you've really got quite a film soup. Not so much food for thought as virtual food for thought. A carrot that just keeps moving away, rather than coming closer to us. Basically an almost impossible to follow story. Even though the story's essential elements are obvious, it's the many details that get lost in the maze of the director's horrible writing.
Earthling uses a sci-fi context to explore this sociological situation. Sure the sci-fi constructions are stereotypes... the slug that occupies the brain is straight out of vintage Star Treck, and the space probe seen in the introduction (in black and white) could have come from Buck Rogers. What the director is saying is that this doesn't matter to the story, that the story takes place at a deeper level.
As the story evolves, it is aided by strong performances by the two female leads that reflect love, doubt, and duplicity. The male characters and actors are significantly weaker. As above, the effects are not the strength, it is the inner dialog and conflict that matters. The main character makes a journey of a lifetime without moving very far at all, and we come to empathize with a creature that is not at all human, yet reflects us all.
4 out of 5.
When you realize the symbiotes are the actual aliens and you see them you really wonder how they could go into space and how they could build spacecraft, the look like some kind of worms ...
I love science-fiction, and I don't mind the occasional impossibility, but this is taking things way too far, with no real story or structure. I suggest you avoid this movie and watch something else. Watch at your own risks.