Nathan Edward Williams

Wow, was this movie a mixed bag. I tried to like it. I wanted to like it, but it had to just go all to hell.

First, the good. The movie is about four friends who met Douglas as kids. Actually, they rescued him from some bullies that were going to make him eat dog shit, much as the filmmakers want the viewer to swallow dog shit for the last half of the film. Anyway, Douglas is mentally challenged, and pronounces his own name as "Duddits." So that's what they call him: Duddits.

Duddits can read minds, and teaches the four friends to do the same. They can communicate with each other over long distances, and know things about people they couldn't possibly know. You know, like John Edwards in Crossing Over.

The scenes introducing the friends and Duddits are handled perfectly. They actually got good child actors, and I actually cared about what happens to these characters.

Then the plot rolls in. Aliens (nicknamed "Ripley" by the military), have been trying to take over the planet and kill us all for twenty five years. Considering the power they demonstrate in the movie, I can't imagine it would take them more than a week. Including travel time.

They are being fought off by Morgan Freeman in one of the worst miscastings I've seen since Keanu Reeves tried Shakespeare. Don't get me wrong, I love Morgan Freeman. I think he is a superb actor. But he does have his limits. I could never see him as a serial rapist or a James Bond villain, and I sure as shit couldn't see him playing a hard-ass, cold-blooded Colonel, who would shoot the finger off one of his own men for lying to him (yes, we do see that here).

Anyhoo, he does a lot of stuff to contain the "outbreak" (more on that later), but ultimately he doesn't do too much that adds up to anything. He's just there to march the paper-thin, borrowed plot along. So these aliens are spreading like a red fungus. People who get infected develop bad gas and a red rash on their face. After the alien gestates inside a living human host, it bursts free as a worm with more teeth than an H.R. Geiger monster. Now, this premise was done much better when it was called Alien. I guess the filmmakers shouldn't have nicknamed the aliens something to remind us of better movies.

To borrow a line from another bad movie, "They're born pregnant." (Godzilla, 1998). That is, the aliens burst free from their host not just ready to drop an egg, but ready to drop an egg that'll hatch in under twenty seconds. Now, you might ask yourself, if the aliens can just hatch from eggs, why the hell do they bother with hosts? I don't know, and don't expect the film makers to offer any explanation, either.

I'm not sure, but it sure seems that the tadpole that hatches from the egg grows into a ten foot alien that looks like a cross between the Roswell aliens and a slug. This alien can shapeshift, put thoughts into our heads, and turn into a cloud to "possess" a human host, controlling their actions, al la Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Jesus, is there any horror franchise they didn't rip off? I half expect the host to then turn into a werewolf and start drinking blood! (Did Steven Somers have a hand in writing this screenplay?)

So, stay with me on this, Duddits (remember him?) is actually an alien. He came to earth 20 years ago to stop these aliens today, meaning he's been posing as a mentally challenged human for twenty years, is able to convince a woman he's her child (or maybe he's adopted, or maybe she's an alien too. I have no fucking idea), and convincingly have leukemia (I don't know why), all so he can be in the right place at the right time to stop "Mr. Gray" (our head alien) from killing us all. Now, given that the aliens have been at this for 25 years, I'm willing to bet that they'll just keep coming. So this whole convoluted plot that Duddits came up with to stop Mr. Gray is ultimately meaningless. We're still fucked. And I want the last two hours of my life back.

This film had potential. It's based on a Stephen King novel, and his books don't generally suck. It has a decent cast and good production values, but couldn't they hire a decent screenwriter? I mean, I'm sure the book's 1000 pages make's a lot more sense than this mess, so couldn't they have pared it down a bit? Maybe take away one or six of the aliens powers so it looks like we have a snowball's chance in hell? Or maybe dropping horror all together and focusing on the friends?

I'm serious. I actually cared about them at first. They had a cool Stand By Me thing going on, which of course, means they were even ripping off other Stephen King movies. But then every cliché that exists in bad movies had to rear it's ugly head. Jabootu's influence is felt everywhere. We even have a character as stupid as someone from one of the Saw movies. He dies for a freaking toothpick! I truly wish I was kidding.

So in conclusion: it sucks. Like a Hoover in the hands of a skilled vacuum cleaner salesman. Not near as bad as, say, "Manos" The Hands of Fate, but still really, really bad. Think along the lines of Van Helsing or Battlefield Earth.

Which probably means I'll have to do a long review of it some day. But not today.