Besides a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo from Jean-Claude Van Damme, this nasty low-budget Brit flick has nothing going for it.
Director Dominic Burns (How To Stop Being A Loser) continues his slow climb onto the radar of British independent cinema with his unimaginatively titled sci-fi thriller U.F.O. While ambitious in its refusal to adhere to the traditional ‘grit-flick’ formula of other British indie fare, Burns’ attempt at sci-fi on a shoestring fails wholeheartedly.
It presents a hedonistic world of sex, debauchery and excess for our five instantly unpleasant party-animal protagonists, led by unbecoming accidental hero Michael (Sean Brosnan) and his one night stand turned sidekick Carrie (Bianca Bree). Their initial carefree euphoria is disrupted when a U.F.O occupies the skies overnight.
Acting as a dystopian catalyst, its appearance causes a societal scrum resulting in widespread anarchy and a fight for survival. Burns’ ham-fisted dissection of the breakdown of civilization acts as a brazen metaphor for the London riots, all too explicit in its transparency.
Perhaps an intentional attack on the vapidity of Generation Y, or maybe Burns sees the film’s unfathomable human contingent as the real alien species, as opposed to the unknown forces apparently at work. Either way, the viewer certainly feels alienated in their inability to formulate any kind of emotional attachment to the film’s heady occupants.
A ‘survival of the fittest’ tale only works if we care about the fates of the survivors. This is difficult given the irredeemable nature of the five unlikely friends. Within minutes, Michael refers to his potential date Carrie as ‘ten out of ten gash’, cementing his status as abhorrent shitbag and reflecting the film’s, at times, overtly misogynist undertones. Rather than rooting for them to live, we are desperate for them to die, impatiently awaiting our first casualty.
The cast of relative unknowns does little to enhance the film's realist aspirations in the face of a maze of irrational and pointless narrative twists. Jean Claude Van Damme’s hotly anticipated cameo is a notable coup for this otherwise low-rent indie flick and generates a modicum interest. But his appearance feels like an unnecessary and over-milked afterthought.
The film resembles an ambitious hybrid of other far superior works, from The Thing to Cloverfield and everything in between, offering little in the way of generic originality. JJ Abrams’ influence on Burns is evident in his approach to cinematography. An imaginatively crafted fight scene showcases Burns’ stylistic credentials in a fleeting visual flourish. At other times, elements of film language feel clumsily thrown together in an attempt to create tension where there simply is none. A gratuitously imposing soundtrack resembles Hans Zimmer DJ-ing at a rave whilst nonsensical flash-forwards and frantic camerawork only serve to further irritate an increasingly exasperated audience.
Ambitiously described as ‘Independence Day meets Monsters, told from the point of view of Signs’, it instead displays all the traits of a below-par Doctor Who Christmas Special seemingly populated by a cast of Hollyoaks extras.
Brit Pack indie sci-fi featuring a Van Damme cam.
The tagline advises us to ‘Try to remain calm’. How about awake?
Unidentified Flying Garbage.