J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ejecta: Assume the Probing Position

If aliens ever arrive on earth, all those broadcasts we have been beaming into space could be a problem for us. They will either expect we will jump to all sorts of awkward assumptions about probing or will worry we might start vivisecting them in an underground bunker. This film certainly will not help. William Cassidy has lived with a painful implant for years. It has turned him into a half-mad shell of a man, but that will not stop the military from torturing him anyway in Chad Archibald & Matt Wiele’s Ejecta (trailer here), which opens late night tonight in New York at the IFC Center.

Among UFO geeks, Cassidy is a near legendary figure. He is not exactly a reliable witness, but he creeps out everyone who meets him. The long term pain and side effects from his prolonged alien contact, dating back forty years, has completely chopped and diced his psyche. Although he no longer remembers doing so, he granted UFO-chasing filmmaker Joe Sullivan (sadly not the Chicago piano player who gigged with Eddie Condon) access to his spectacularly miserable life.

Sullivan picked a fine time to start documenting Cassidy. In addition to the aliens, Dr. Tobin, a civilian scientist working with the military also wants a piece of him. She thinks he can tell her when the invasion or whatever will start. For some strange reason, Cassidy is not inclined to be helpful, so she goes medieval on him, using some special confiscated alien technology. Yet, that implant might help keep his brain from totally liquefying.

Julian Richings racked up the awards on the genre festival circuit for playing the tortured (literally and figuratively) Cassidy—and not without reason. He goes all in, freaking out one minute, gaunt and withdrawn the next, without lurching ridiculously over the top, like an alien-abducted Meryl Streep. However, he is about the only thing going for this film.

Frankly, Ejecta is littered with plot holes that are only made more conspicuous by the film’s fractured chronology. There is really no logic to the confrontations between Cassidy and Tobin, beyond a desire to make heavy-handed commentaries about “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Lisa House’s Tobin is a ridiculous caricature of sadist villainy, who just becomes embarrassing as the film wears on. It is even difficult to follow the on-screen action when the film combines the worst of shaky campaign and 1980s-style gauzy, neon cinematography, in the dubious tradition of Alien from L.A.

Throughout Ejecta, Richings truly looks like his head might explode, which is not nothing. Nevertheless, the alien invasion-conspiracy business is nothing you haven’t seen done better any number of times. Not recommended, Ejecta screens just before midnights tonight and tomorrow (2/27 & 2/28) in New York, at the IFC Center.

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