**** out of *****
‘We were never alone,’ says Cassidy (Julian Richings), amidst a world of UFO sightings and contact with unidentifiable life forms, far too many of which have been discounted in knee-jerk fashion as being the product of mental illness. They can’t all be out of their gourds and that’s what gives you the willies.
From the visionary Collingwood, Ontario, crazies known to genre fans as Foresight Features (Monster Brawl, Septic Man), Ejecta is, without a doubt, one of the scariest science-fiction horror films you’re likely to see this year. Buoyed by intense, intelligent writing from Canuck horror scribe Tony Burgess (Pontypool), it’s a screenplay that induces fingernail-ripping, which makes biting nails to the quick pleasurable by comparison. Featuring a riveting performance from one of Canada’s greatest actors, Julian Richings (Hard Core Logo, Cube, Man of Steel), Ejecta plunges you into the terror of one utterly horrendous night in the lives of three men who experience a series of close encounters of the third kind. Be warned, though. There are no happy-faced hairless alien midgets making Kodály Hand Signs whilst smiling at a beaming François Truffaut. No siree Spielberg, the mo-fos in this picture induce drawer filling of the heaviest order. That said, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is worth noting, because Ejecta shares one very important element with Spielberg’s bona fide masterpiece: obsession.
The journey Burgess’s screenplay takes us on begins quite evocatively with some cold, impersonal Ascii text being typed onto a hazy computer monitor:
Tonight the universe is no bigger than my head.
It’s time to make room for some visitors.
Visitors indeed. William Cassidy (Richings), a conspiracy theorist living off the grid in the middle of some godforsaken Ontario hinterland, is inundated with unwelcome guests – a filmmaker, an interrogator and a mean-ass alien. Joe (Adam Seybold) is the most benevolent of the three. This ultra-indie one-man-show doc-maker is granted an audience with the ‘Holy Grail’ of UFO experts. Unlike Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, most of Cassidy’s adult life has been fraught with the obsession an alien encounter instigates. At least Dreyfuss had tangible things to lose, but poor Cassidy appears to have lost everything before he could even get a chance to amass it. His has been a life of questions, pain and endless, seemingly futile attempts to let the world know about his experience. He’s lost a life he could have had. That’s scary enough, but happily, the movie delivers its share of visceral chills to complement those of the philosophical variety.
At first, Joe makes the mistake of referring to the alien ‘abduction’ Cassidy suffered almost 40 years ago, but is sternly corrected. Cassidy declares:
They met inside my mind. I could feel them, I could hear them. They ignored me and then they left something behind, something inside of me, and it’s been there ever since. When I’m awake it hurts, but when I’m not, it floods me with… it’s not nightmares, it’s something else, something much, much worse.
Damned if we don’t believe him. The words Burgess provides to Cassidy border on the poetic, and it’s these flights of fancy rooted in the unknown that terrify the bloody bejesus out of you. When Cassidy explains the feelings he has because of the intrusive alien presence within him, he notes in desperation: it’s ‘the fear of the anticipation of this feeling [which] eats away at my life’. Well, Jesus H. Christ Almighty! Hand me an extra large pair of Depends Adult Diapers because this statement and the chilling manner of its delivery were as scary as another beautifully directed set piece, in which Cassidy and Joe hide in a shed from an alien prowling malevolently outside.
Structurally, the film benefits from a three-pronged approach to this night of horror. Firstly, there’s Joe’s documentary footage, then there’s the perspective of the military through various helmet-cams, and finally, the present tense unfolding of Cassidy’s brutal interrogation at the hands of a nasty military official. The film essentially gives new meaning to the old movie tagline ‘Watch the Skies’ because here, it’s not the skies you need to watch, it’s the universe implanted in your brain, and that is really fucking scary.
Watch the trailer: