Thursday, 4 April 2013

After Dusk They Come (2009)

Alien v Predator with a twist!

Also known as 'The Forgotten Ones'.

Not a lot of people seem to like this movie, or video should I say. Jorg Ihle directed this piece which at it's end they decided was not good enough and promptly re-made it just one year later allowing this to go straight to DVD. Oddly the user's reviews on IMDB show the remake to be even less popular than this original version!

We begin on the Greater Antilles Islands in 1922, where a group of people are being harassed by an unseen force, they are murdered and mutilated and our one survivor gets trapped in a clearing but gets her knife stuck in some bamboo. After the credits we meet our heroes, first Liz (Jewel Staite) to the strains of 'One Of These Days I'm Gonna Change My Life' then her once wayward boyfriend Peter (Justin Baldoni), his friend Jake (Kellan Lutz), Jake's ex Lauren (Nikki Griffin) and her current beau Ira (Marc Bacher). This unlikely group have borrowed a boat to make a three day trip to a party.

We now get treated to a party montage on the boat with everyone having a good time despite displaying their petty jealousies and squabbles. Jake still wants Lauren and resents Ira while Peter is still getting calls from Cyndi despite trying to stay loyal with Liz, who becomes sure they are lost and tells Peter, but being who he is he asserts control. When questioned as to who is ringing him he doesn't tell Liz, but throws his 'phone overboard.  At this point Liz suspects he may be cheating. Again.  Lauren assures her she should be planning a wedding.

People have complained that the acting in this film is poor but I found I couldn't stand anyone but Liz almost immediately and this made the latter parts of the film quite pleasant. So the boat is wrecked and they all arrive perfectly well on an island. Many of their important belongings wash up with them too, although Liz is upset at her new hairdryer being ruined. The radio still works so they contact Mo, the boat's owner to collect them. He claims there's land at their co-ordinates but will come anyway.

Liz has a run in with a creature when she tries to rescue the raft, although whatever it is remains unseen. Peter is unmoved by her claims. She goes off and bizarrely a farting noise has been added to her toilet scene. Very unnecessary. I assume at this point they had given up on the film. Whilst gone Peter reveals his reason for secrecy and proposes to Liz with a message in the sand and a ring made from grass. He claims this was his plan all along and has lost the original ring in the accident. Liz is very pleased.

They awake to find Peter missing and a trail of blood leading to the forest. After Jake threatens Ira with a gun to stop him going for help, our intrepid four go into the forest in search. Whilst in the forest Lauren becomes convinced they're being stalked. Correctly, I may add. Monkey/ wolf type figures with dreadlocks move about in the darkness of the forest and soon Lauren walks into a trap. Jake tries to rescue her before she is taken and Ira goes after her. Liz and Jake stumble across the camp we saw in the opening sequence and discovery a diary telling us about 'The Forgotten Ones' which leads to a flashback full of exposition. Sadly Jake just can't keep quiet and gets taken, only to be returned just seconds later rather badly mutilated. Liz goes off into the forest but can't escape, cut to: Peter, who is fine except for a piece of bamboo stuck in his leg. He takes it out and wanders off only to be caught again.

Liz awakens next to Peter, but this time he is dead and proves it when a bug crawls out of his mouth. Ira is there too, but not for long. Liz however gets up and runs away. They chase but an unexpected run in with some goo means the creatures can't smell her and when close up we can see they are blind or nearly blind at least. Our girl Liz makes it to the beach but finds the raft is gone. Nothing left to do but goo up like Arnie in Predator and go back in to rescue the cat. Newt. I mean the raft.

Everything goes well until she's in the lair and then some rats go and spoil it all. She gets a nick on the ankle and the smell of blood gets 'the forgotten ones' attention. Nice trick with some shotgun shells and a flare gun and we're on the run again. Liz hides in a hollowed out tree trunk which totally confuses her attacker but he gets his own back and steals her trousers. So now she's facing a show down with her foe in just vest top and panties. Eventually we reach the clearing we saw in the opening sequence where a large knife has been left in some bamboo. Can Liz do what our previous heroine could not and free the knife to slay the beast?

Well to be honest, yes she can, beheading the beast and when found by the rest of the group the dead creature's partner is a little upset but the elder grants her respect and they all leave. Liz makes it back to the beach where the boat's owner is trying to contact the group on the radio. She destroys the radio and heads out to sea in the raft.

So why don't people like it? Mostly it seems to be the acting, the fact it rips off Predator, the fact it rips off Alien and the fact things don't make sense. I, however, like Alien and the final sequence where she faces the final battle dressed in her most vulnerable attire is straight from that film. This isn't Alien though, it's Predator but with our hero being a girl, and what stronger filmic image to use when supplanting Arnie for a female than that of Lt. Ellen Ripley? Like Ripley she had to be believable, not a musclebound type but someone we can identify with. So that for me works, even if the forgotten ones do look a bit like Predators too. Why not pay homage to these great films? Why not ask "what if Predator faced a woman?"

It is a shame Peter's role wasn't sorted out. He needed to be written as the guy really making the change in his life and showing us the ring (or Jake) before we left harbour then we'd know where he stood. Either that or with no ring and no intention of marrying Liz and showing the island performance as a sham. Ira isn't really a believable partner for Lauren either and Jake risking his life to go after her when trapped shows more depth than any other time. This film is all about the ending though so relationship development has suffered in favour of party montage and then the whole female Predator thing. It is also true that after Peter had been taken from the beach we really didn't need to see him again until the cave. It seems a little self defeating to smash up the radio at the end too, surely Liz not helping her chances of being rescued from what they call a raft but I would call dinghy at best and not taking the beast's head as proof of what happened was just careless. Oh, and the dusk doesn't seem to bother them at all.

I think the moral of this story is that sometimes we have to go through terrible times to find our strengths and independence so that we may grow and find ourselves a better place in life. I could be wrong though, there's no guarantee Liz ended up anywhere better or got rescued at all.

I like the film and would watch it again and again with friends. Not one to watch with a partner but a lot of fun and like seeing some great other movies but without having to think too much. Also bonus points for Jewel Staite. With a budget of $4m and a nice trip to Costa Rica for all involved I'm sure they had a great time filming it too, just a shame about the foley editing in post-production.

Maru's score: 7/10

The Forgotten Ones (2009) on IMDb

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