It Came From Within: Ejecta
“I never said abducted. Something came to me.”
First it was Whitley Streiber’s Communion. The author of horror novels like The Wolfen and The Hunger was roundly ridiculed for his first person, non-fiction novel about alien abduction in 1987, but this didn’t stop him from writing a follow up, Transformation, a year later. The book editor at The L.A. Times' book editor even removed Transformation from the non-fiction best-seller list despite the fact that it was published as a non-fiction account. WIKI LINK
Then, it was The X-Files, which once again brought little green men – or grey men, to be more accurate – into pop culture consciousness. The alien abduction mythology of the show remains divisive, but it did spark enough of a debate to make shows like Sightings and Encounters: The Hidden Truth fairly popular in the 1990s.
By 2015, however, the number of reality shows on the topic, such as the outrageous Ancient Aliens, and the increasing discussion of sleep paralysis as a possible explanation for alien abduction stories, means that a lot of people don’t find aliens a plausible or scary subject for a horror movie.
Ejecta, written by Tony Burgess (Pontypool) and directed by Chad Archibald (The Drownsman, Bite) and Matt Wiele, opens with a frightfully intriguing premise: the aliens aren’t little green men or Greys and their abduction doesn’t involve blinding white lights and tractor beams, but something more insidious.
“It’s not pain; it’s not fear; it’s something else and it’s much worse.”
Bill Cassidy has been off the grid for years, with the exception of his untraceable online postings as Spider Nevi, a man who claims to have been tormented by his encounter with an alien presence. Fanboy Joe Sullivan tracks him down and begs Cassidy for a videotaped interview because he believes his story.
Like Pontypool, Ejecta plants a tantalizing suggestion: what if the evil forces that seek us out can’t be seen with the eyes, but instead are felt in the mind? Other films have tried to expand upon this idea with mixed results. 1982’s Xtro opens with an amazing shot of an alien and a storyline about a personality takeover but devolves into a bunch of gory birth scenes and toys that come to life (2012’s Almost Human takes on this same idea and dispenses with any alien visuals to create a much better version of the story). The Hidden, the 1987 feature with Kyle McLachlan and Michael Nouri, does a marvelous job at making the unseen entity seem uncanny and terrifying, even though it has a physical form which resides inside the host’s body (kind of like the cockroach alien from Men In Black but much smaller and less obvious).
How does Ejecta compare? As Cassidy, Julian Richings is as superbly creepy as usual. He’s gaunt and haunted and the idea of having something inside of your brain that you can’t get rid of is truly terrifying. But Ejecta fails when it relies too heavily on the tired trope of shaky cam found footage as a method of exposition and eventually shows us the alien itself. The film attempts to deviate from the trope by explaining that the alien body is just a host for the alien intelligence, but once we see the creature laid out on a table, the fake “alien autopsy” video is the first thing that comes to mind, and like Cassidy’s alien, we can’t get it out of our heads.
It’s a shame because Ejecta has a lot of promise from a narrative perspective but it feels like yet another movie that could have benefited from fewer special effects.