Friday, October 16, 2009

Visitors Of The Night

FINALLY. No more bashing our brains against the blunt vanilla wafer of this season of Project Runway. It's movie time.

My friends, this movie was really special. Visitors in the Night is the rare treat that occurs when people who write TV movies try to do something other then stories about eating disorders or disastrous proms. Markie Post is a go-go 90's lady with a demanding-but-unexplained job, a distant politician ex-husband, and a snarky little brat of a daughter. Of course she's a brat, she's Candace Cameron, AKA DJ Tanner. (You're reading a blog about Lifetime movies, so I know you are delighted by this.) Anyway, her life is tough, and her problems are only compounded by the fact that she has some kind of weird brain problem that makes her go into a trance and flail violently at random times. The triggers for her trauma are bright lights, exploding transistors, and horses.

Fig 1. A Perfectly Normal Reaction to A Horse

She's hallucinating and blacking out like nobody's business. Most people would have parked themselves in an MRI machine by now, but maybe the Shoulderpad Lady Office doesn't offer decent medical. To make matters worse, her daughter is experiencing the pains of adolescent rebellion, completed with a rat-faced grunge-y boyfriend and a need to "explore the absence of color" through dressing like a slutty goth librarian all the time. This family is desperate for a father figure. Their salvation may lie in the super beefed-out arms of the dad from Pet Sematary, (you know you want to click that link) who is constantly haunting the troubled family with the excuse of being a small-town sheriff. But the soil of a lady's heart is stonier, and Markie Mark has bigger fish to fry.

Maybe the water in this town make you oblivious to obvious things. Not only is Markie unaware of what is almost surely a brain tumor, the whole town is writing off a panopoly of strange phenomenon as teenage stunts. This includes livestock mutilation, crop circles- you know, all that shit you used to do in high school. I always loved to huff glue, listen to Nirvana, and burn huge geometric designs into the soybean fields of my hometown. Candace tags herself a participating punk by scribbling crop circles in her notebook, landing her some serious principal's office time and a fight with Markie. If only they had something to bond on! Some shared trauma or unbelievable secret, perhaps?

Things come to a head when Markie goes out of town to perform whatever vague business she is responsible for. Candace takes this opportunity to throw a bitchin' party and invite all of her scummy little friends. The party quickly gets out of hand, by which I mean the music gets slightly louder then it was and someone burns a pizza in the oven. Candace freaks out, announces that the party is over, and storms away with a bag of garbage. Party foul, Candace. Save the hissy-fit until you're sloshed. Out at the garbage, which for some reason is a half-mile away in a secluded area, Candace hears a noise that freaks out her dog. The picture then abruptly takes us back to Markie, who is giving a presentation, something? Sounds like she's talking about valves? Anyway, she blacks out and we see that she's daydreaming about a bunch of flashing lights in her house, and her parents are dead or something, and...I dunno, she looks scared? The flashbacks lack narrative structure, so it's kind of hard to figure out what's so damn scary. We can probably assume it's aliens. Oh, shit, spoiler alert!

As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that Candace's issues are not the garden variety teenage trauma that one would expect. After the party, she experiences repeated blackouts and even crashes the family car. She also goes all Jello Biafra on her science class and harangues them about the the inevitable effects of suburban atrophy for some reason. There's a great sequence where she goes to visit her dad at a city council meeting and talks her dad's staff into using green building materials for a housing development. Apparently, alien-themed traumas make you really annoying and eco-conscious. Markie's alien-themed daydreams get more creepily detailed and specific, and her erratic behavior begins to worry the townsfolk. The sheriff makes a weird effort at being a daddy figure for the troubled ladies, but considering what happened to this guy's last family, you can't blame Markie for taking a pass. Instead she visits a hypnotherapist (?!) to try and get some more information about the bullshit tricks her brain appears to be playing on her.

Now here is where you would expect the hypnotherapist to dig up some long-suppressed memories of something traumatic and terrible that her kid-brain would have rewritten as an alien abduction to successfully ignore. But no! Markie was actually abducted by goddamned aliens! We also learn that the aliens put some weird alien junk in Markie's womb, making her baby daughter a freako alien baby. Now the aliens are back- and this time, it's personal.

The aliens are super gross looking, by the way. They're weird butt-headed hybrids of X-Files-style Greys and Tony Harrison of The Mighty Boosh. Observe:

Fig. 2: The Resemblance Is An Outraaaaage!

No wonder they had to abduct Markie Post to get their swerve on. Ew.

Next we suffer through a last minute boring infodump from a "professor" at a local university who happens to specialize in alien abductions for some damn reason. But it's worth it, because afterwards the movie finally allows the aliens to succeed in kidnapping Candace and revealing their nefarious plot. Apparently, they have been trying to make alien/human hybrid babies, and have a whole litter of them up on the ship. But the babies are tiny little sociopaths that don't feel love because "they don't cry". That isn't actually why babies cry, but I guess she's kind of traumatized, so we'll give her a break. Anyway, Candace gets off the ship and is deposited in her mother's loving arms. Everyone goes home, everything's cool-


Fade to black. No, really, that's the end.

So, how does this mother rate in the grand scheme of things?

Awesomeness: 19

FUCK YEAH. This movie had fucking aliens in it. I don't feel like I need to say anything else here. ALIENS! Just thinking about it makes me want to give someone a high-five.

One point deducted for the creepy rat-faced boyfriend. I just didn't like him. If the aliens had stolen him instead we'd be rolling 20s here.

Star Power: 10

No-Brainer thanks to the poor career decisions of Markie Post. Rule of thumb: if you can find their boobs on Google, they're trashy-famous enough for a 10 on their own. Add in DJ and the gloriously hammy Pet Sematary lead, and it's a perfect train-wreck of TV movie casting.

Lifetimeliness: 6

I'm going to cut the score down here a little. Rusty may disagree with me, but women's intuition completely failed to save the day here. A more Lifetime-y approach would have involved Markie figuring out how to stop the aliens by having a passionate heart-to-heart with them about the pressures of being a working mother in today's fast-paced world. Still, the mother-daughter trauma was the core of the story, so partial credit is due.

35! Not bad, not bad. The score is not really reflective of how amazing the movie is, though. DVR it. Get really drunk. Share it with a loved one. Let us know how it goes.


Leigh C. said...

yay lifetime movie reviews! this is a good one, m'lady.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that you finally reviewed this one. I have been in awe of it since the first time I saw it so many years ago, and I think that your discussion truly captures the total WTH feel this movie exudes.

Christine said...

This review had me laughing so much!

Hysterical Woman said...

Given that in the real world crop circles DID come from bored pranksters it's not that strange that people are assuming that.

ParisMeister said...

Hilarious review! I will check my local listings for this one!

buy generic viagra said...

Ok, thank for the recommendation. it looks quite silly but if you say so. I will give it a try after some beers.

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So, I don't actually believe this will work.