Review: 'Alien Trespass'

Film Critic

There is a sweet sincerity to "Alien Trespass," a sometimes too reverential homage to the sci-fi B-movies that landed in theaters during the 1950s, channeling our nuclear annihilation worries through an even greater prism of fear: the outer reaches of the universe and the frightening beings that might exist there.

It was a time when filmmakers had to create other worlds and other beings without the help of all the complex technology that would soon revolutionize the possibilities for special effects in movies. Being true to that earlier papier-mâché and wire hanger time, "Trespass" conjures up a simple silver saucer of a spaceship and a space marshal named Urp (Wyatt Earp anyone?), who looks like a taller, sleeker, faceless version of the Tin Man from "The Wizard of Oz."

Urp is after the Ghota, a one-red-eyed black blob that feasts on humans and is due to start multiplying soon. Though we just see the blob as it appears then disappears, there are screams aplenty. Sadly, with our 21st century knowledge, we know that creating truly frightening scenes depicting the consumption of humans requires better computer models. Oh, well.

"Trespass" director R.W. Goodwin and screenwriter Steven Fisher make sure they hit every note. (Did they have a checklist? It sure feels like it.) There is the teenage couple -- Penny (Sarah Smyth) in her saddle shoes and a shirtwaist dress and Dick (Andrew Dunbar) in his madras shirt, khakis and loafers -- out necking on a warm night in the Mojave and first to see the alien spacecraft's fiery landing. Of course, no one believes them.

There is Tammy (Jenni Baird), the waitress in the small diner with her fresh-pressed uniform and her big dreams, collecting the tips that will get her out of this no-count small town and wishing on what she thinks is a shooting star.

Eric McCormack, best known as the Will of "Will & Grace," is Ted Lewis, a noted astronomer, which we'd be able to guess from the black horn-rims, tweed jacket and pipe. When he goes to investigate the bright light he's seen, Urp takes over his body, just for a while, so he can move about undetected as he searches for the Ghota. Urp, like aliens everywhere, has some telltale troubles with English syntax, but no one really seems to notice.

A shout-out has to go to production designer Ian Thomas and costume designer Jenni Gullett, who take great care in their re-creation of 1957 with what was probably a 1957 movie budget. In fact, there is attention to detail throughout this film, and it's clear that Goodwin loves those old sci-fi movies -- maybe a little too much. While "Alien Trespass" stays true to the era and the genre, it forgets that its mission in this galaxy is not merely to pay tribute but to entertain.

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