Altered (2006)

Altered (2006)

They will find you…

Fifteen years ago, five men were abducted by aliens – only four returned. Now the survivors have managed to capture one of the creatures who killed their friend and ruined their lives. Taking it to a remote house in the woods, the four men ponder what to do it whilst the other creatures close in for the rescue.

 

Seven years since making a splash around the world with The Blair Witch Project, director Eduardo Sánchez is back for this interesting flick which reminds me quite a lot of Dreamcatcher only with more gore and icky bits. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Blair Witch Project but it seems I’ve been proven wrong with what this guy can actually do when he gets behind the helm of a proper flick. Don’t get me wrong, Altered is no classic of the genre. But it’s a refreshing enough waste of time that I could have quite easily spent watching some other dreck like Live Feed or Rest Stop (both of which I have unfortunately seen recently at time of this review)

The set up doesn’t take long to kick into place and it’s a nice little twist on the usual story. Instead of aliens abducting humans, we’re the ones doing the kidnapping! After the opening where three of the men capture the alien (a rather tense hunt through the woods is a good way to kick off any horror flick), the film moves to the location of the remote house where pretty much the rest of the film takes place. I’m never a big fan of films where everything happens in one place but if it’s pulled off properly (for instance something like Phone Booth) then it works well. You get the sense that these men are confined to the house and that as soon as they open a door or window, the aliens will get inside to rescue their comrade. And there’s the basic fact that they’ve plotted for years to capture one of these, never realising they would. Now that they have captured one, they haven’t got a clue how to deal with it.

Enough twists and turns are thrown into the film so that there is always some obstacle for these men to overcome. If it isn’t one of the characters’ imprisoned girlfriends, it’s the nosey sheriff coming along to find out what’s happening or the alien itself breaking free of it’s shackles and causing havoc inside. I have to highlight how refreshing it was to finally get a low budget film horror flick where the weird aliens aren’t CGI creations but good old fashioned make-up and suits. The alien here looks great – a little funny and odd at first but later on it really dawns on you how kick ass it has been made. With a sharp set of razor teeth and a bulging head with mind-controlling eyes, this is one alien you wouldn’t want a close encounter with.

The film doesn’t hold back on the gore either. There’s not a great amount of human blood but there’s guts (with a classic intestine tug-of-war between some unlucky dude and the alien) and the alien doesn’t hold back on the goo when wounded. Acting is also a strong point here with a bunch of relative unknowns having to deal with the weakly written characters but managing to turn out strong, believable and occasionally comic and tragic performances.  Decisions that they make are logical and not really there just to further the plot (how many times have stupid characters done the most blatantly deadly things in horror films simply to keep the film running?). If there is one problem with the film it’s with the ending. Things get a little bit hectic, a little bit silly and above all, a little too run-of-the-mill.

 

Altered deserved better when it was released. It looks like a full budget film, is more sharply written than 90% of horror crap that gets released in the cinema and has a nasty creative streak running through it, yet somehow managed to be shafted onto a straight-to-video release in the UK. It’s good to see the film getting noticed for the gem that it is, it’s a pity the suits at Universal didn’t see it.

 

 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

 

 

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