Fright Fest Review #23: Altered (2006)

I've heard of EarthBound, but this is ridiculous!
I’ve heard of EarthBound, but this is ridiculous!

Subgenre:  Alien

Summary:  Four friends, intent on getting revenge for their abduction by aliens, kidnap and imprison an extraterrestrial.

Review:  On its surface, Altered is a fun twist on the classic Alien abduction story, featuring a group of malevolent humans who kidnap and torture a single alien.  It also has shades of thrillers like Fargo and Very Bad Things, in which a single action sets off a series of events that spirals out of the protagonists’ control.  For a good chunk of Altered’s running time, the alien element is largely secondary; it feels like a typical kidnapping thriller with a particularly unusual victim.

In its second half, Altered becomes a more traditional alien movie, and this is where it falters.  Its best moments are the early interactions between its protagonists, when they debate what to do with their extraterrestrial prisoner.  These scenes have an intimacy and realism to them that naturally creates audience investment.  When the movie abandons these moments in favor of a man vs. alien showdown, it loses the taut, raw quality of its first half.  The story also suffers in its latter half, and its painfully clear that there’s not enough content to fill its running time.

The Verdict:  Altered starts off promisingly, but never recovers from its weak second half. I give it five interned invaders out of ten.

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