After an ill-fated weekend of gambling in Las Vegas, four friends on the run from a loan shark find themselves stranded in the Nevada desert. But debt troubles may be the least of their worries when the group discovers that something unearthly may be stalking them.
In this day and age found footage films are essentially a dime a dozen with quite a few of them seeing DTV release every month and a few taking a few laps around the country as they play in select theaters. The formula is pretty much the same and nearly all of them have some sort of sci-fi/horror angle propelling their scripts, after all it is a really cheap and easy way to make a film. We’re not talking Chinese arithmetic here. The film makers behind Unidentified understand this completely. The story propelling the film isn’t especially witty or engrossing but it does turn the entire script around during the final 30 minutes or so and while it isn’t really successful in its attempt to bring together two vastly different genres together and form them into a cohesive whole it still managed to make a fairly entertaining diversion that you won’t feel guilty about after watching it.
The film features four young men who decide to take a trip to Vegas to (hopefully) win a bundle of cash. Jodie (Eric Artell – who looks just like Topher Grace) is a struggling artist who’s trying to market his “Jodieman” character through a series of YouTube videos. Dave (Colton Dunn) who’s the sarcastic member of the group, Jeremy (Parry Shen) who’s the sensible member of the group & Nick (Eddie Mui) who has both gambling & marital issues and is tagging along hoping to score big in a game to repay a gambling debt. Jodie is chronicling the entire voyage and for nearly the first hour of the film the viewer is tagging along as the four musketeers make their way to Vegas and all of the situations they run into during their trip. All four main characters are good & likable in their roles and they manage to convey a genuine sense of camaraderie as they get closer to Vegas. I believed that the four of them were long time pals and that’s a big part of the battle in a film like this.
Unfortunately the name of the movie is Unidentified – not Road Trip 2 and since there’s a threatening looking alien on the cover of the DVD packaging then a lot of people are gonna be irate when nothing involving any malevolent extraterrestrials happens for the first hour or so. Luckily the actors make the movie move along at an easy going, if a bit dull, pace. We get to learn a lot about their backstories and that’s all well and good but again, there’s a big old alien on the cover of the DVD so I was wondering if/when it was gonna show up.
And my patience began to grow ever so thin.
Luckily when the proverbial shit hits the fan Unidentified picks up considerably but it’s nearly a case of “Too little, Too late“. I say nearly only because the alien getup is pretty cool looking! It looks like an extremely angry “Little Green Man” but it ain’t so little and it doesn’t seem to want to make friends with anyone. In actuality there’s something of a hostile alien take over of earth going on and the boys have landed smack dab in the middle of it. There is very little in the way of gore going on here but there a really disgusting alien cyst lancing that turned my stomach just a bit and some extremely low rent, but effective, special effect scenes that help punctuate the bit of action that Unidentified provides. I totally understand the vibe that writer/director Jason Richard Miller was going for here and for the most part he succeeds, nothing in the film feels particularly wrong yet I still believe that the cover is more than a bit misleading since it’s being sold as a sort of alien abduction flick and it is…but only for 1/3 of it’s running time. I fear people will be disappointed when they bring this one home to watch.
And that’s too bad because the film does work for the most part. It’s kinda quirky, kinda funny & a bit deeper than I thought it would be – plus it has an alien in it! You will care about everyone’s fate and the final few minutes are extremely unexpected & dramatic. It’s not the movie that’s depicted on its cover and that’s a big problem but in the end I was willing to forget about that and allow the film to work its (slow paced) magic. Unidentified is nowhere near the movie it presents itself to be but it’s a decent little movie that engaged me and should have the same effect on you if you give it a chance.
Unidentified – 2 1/2 out of 5 shrouds.