Alien Trespass (2009)

Let’s be clear right from the start — “Alien Trespass” is not a spoof. Nor is it a parody, satire, sendup, lampoon, or pastiche. It may be presented as a spoof and most ticket buyers will likely go in expecting one, and the makers of the film may even have set out to produce a spoof.

But what they achieved instead is a meticulous recreation of a film from the 1950s, earnest and straightforward. The period detail is truly impressive, with costuming, sets, and locations all note-perfect. Even the casting is to be commended, especially for the younger actors — it is actually difficult to find actors who can convincingly portray people outside their era, but these folks do a great job. There are a few minor anachronisms, but overall the period recreation is staggering, right down to the feel of the film stock and even the lighting.

The film’s accuracy is actually its greatest problem, in terms of success. Instead of the “Airplane” type treatment many will expect, the film instead gives us just what it pretends to: a film made in the 50s but only recently unearthed. But this means it has only the camp factor inherent in those films; the audience with which I shared the preview screening wanted it to be a spoof, laughed at some parts, but the things they were laughing about were accurately rendered from that time — they were laughing at period “quaintnesses” only gently exaggerated. The film is too straight-faced and sincere to get the average viewer laughing.

I am surprised this movie got made, but near-astounded that it is getting a theatrical release. The production values are high, and Eric McCormack has some name draw, but I am still not sure how they sold it for distribution.

Let’s put it this way: If you know who Wade Williams is, if you and your friends trade dialogue from “Forbidden Planet” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, or if you ever saw the original Blob in an actual theater, this movie will give you a warm feeling and a nostalgic smile as a love letter to the movies from that time. Just about everyone else, I am afraid, will feel perplexed and disappointed.