As the found-footage horror genre reaches the please-lose-it-again point, "Alien Abduction" arrives to remind us how tedious the camping trip set-up has become as well.
Taking the notorious "ghost lights" above North Carolina's Brown Mountain as its inspiration, the movie purports to be Air Force-leaked footage from an 11-year-old autistic boy's camcorder of how things went horribly wrong for his family on a weekend nature outing. (Considering some of the eye-level shots, he must be a very tall 11-year-old.)
Director Matty Beckerman, working from a script by Robert Lewis, likes his close encounters frenetic, video-distorted and oblique, making plenty use of handheld recording chaos to gin up the excitement when mostly you're thinking you're not going to really see anything. The occasional glimpses of aliens, meanwhile, hew to the long-fingered, bulbous-headed forms of cheesy UFO tales past. A nice wink-wink touch, sure, but everything else suffers from the tired POV gimmickry, the weak characterizations, the numbing sameness of stuck-in-the-woods-with-dolts narratives.
The forced excuse for why our young chronicler keeps a camera going at all times — including when loved ones are screaming — is that it's an obsessive, comforting tic for someone with autism. Bring on the red low-battery signal in the corner of the frame, please.
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
MPAA rating: None
Playing: At the Arena Cinema, Hollywood