Ejecta (2014, 1 hr 27 mins)
I would love to get inside writer Tony Burgess’s head. I am sure it is a place of wonder and intrigue, a place where festival hits Pontypool and Hellmouth were born. His latest brainchild, BITS Fest selection Ejecta, tackles some pretty mean aliens.
William Cassidy is a tormented man. After being abducted, or as he put it “meeting” with “an advance life form”, he has been under their watch and control for 39 years. His reports and theories on his alien captors have made him something of a mysterious legend online under the name Spider Nevi, and when he contacts an eager filmmaker Joe (Adam Seybold) to finally tell his story, things hit the fan as an anticipated solar event serves as a backdrop to an insane alien cat and mouse chase and interrogation by a secret military operation.
This is definitely more mainstream for Burgess, and refreshing. I could see the Burgess substance as William waxed poetically about his alien experiences, but there was an overall popcorn movie feel that I enjoyed. Directing team Chad Archibald and Matt Wiele (winners of a Best Director Bloodies award at the fest) created a found footage/real-time combo that didn’t confuse the story. There was a fair amount of terror in this sci-fi gem, and the aliens were filmed in true found footage style, with glimpses of their angry, saw-toothed faces and low lit alien autopsy-like shots. Plenty of frantic shaky camera chases kept a frenzied pace, but it was a step above many found footage films with some great performances.
Julian Richings, who is literally everywhere from the Canadian sci-fi classic Cube to the super popular Orphan Black and a Bloodies Best Actor winner, delivered as the tortured William. His expressive, angular face captivated like no other, and Lisa Houle as the intense Dr. Tobin was equally engaging with her steely and villainous resolve to find the aliens by any means necessary; and Adam Seybold was believable as the eager Joe, who exuded a certain innocence that would be lost as the aliens took charge. Also look for another cameo by director Bruce McDonald that provides some nutty comic relief with a touch of menace.
Burgess, Wiele, Richings and Houle were all in attendance to give us more insider tidbits that I love to hear about! Ejecta was shot the same time as Hellmouth and Septic Man 2 years ago. When the directors saw what they had, they decided it wasn’t what they wanted, with Wiele calling the found footage genre the “bastard child of horror” and basically shot another movie. The incorporation of the 2 films was actually pretty seamless, making a better overall presentation. When Burgess was asked if he thought about the genre of film while he wrote, he revealed that he didn’t and the story just comes regardless of the genre. What is consistent with him is a guaranteed surreal world that has been respected by his directors.
I have seen enough films with the common denominator of Tony Burgess to know that I am rarely disappointed, and Ejecta is no exception. If you want some mystery and mean, determined aliens, check it out!
(As an aside, I had a cool experience that night. As you all know, I love Stephen McHattie, Canadian actor extraordinaire. He showed up to the Ejecta screening to support his friends, and I got a chance to say hello. There is always a fear that someone you hold in high regard will disappoint you, but he was so nice! We shook hands, had a laugh and I gave him my card so he could read my “love letter” to him. One thing off of my bucket list!)