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Friday, May 22, 2015

Horror Hotel Series Debuts Second Season With '60s B-Movie Sendup "Aliens Stole My Boyfriend"

"ALIENS STOLE MY BOYFRIEND" (2015)
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length- 18:44
Company: Horror Hotel
Website: Official

Cindy (Kalyn Wood) throws out her underachieving boyfriend Rodger (Austin Freeman) just in time for a pair of sexy aliens (Stephanie Stevens and Anastasia Pekhtereva) to show up looking for love.

It happens to the best of us.

While Rodger enjoys the sudden attention these two aliens pay him, Cindy gets jealous and, being a narcissistic sadist, figures out a way to get rid of the aliens forever and retain the boyfriend she just unceremoniously booted out her front door.

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Horror Hotel is an online anthology series aiming to provide stories with equal parts silly and spook.  After a successful first season and wide online distribution (via Hulu, Direct TV, and Xfinity, among others), the family Hess (producer/composer Debra, director/editor Ricky and writer Al) return with this, "Aliens Stole My Boyfriend", as the second season's premiere.

The result is an amusing if tonally uneven story which doesn't really scare but got a few laughs out of me over its eighteen minute running time.

ALIEN TAKEOVER

You can tell from the get go, thanks to the catchy surf rock tune at the start that what we're dealing with is a homage -- the Hesses are deliberately channeling the goofy sci-fi and horror of the 1950's and '60s.  The over the top acting, wild costumes and tame double entendres are all here.  The only thing missing, honestly, is the sand and surf.

Where "Aliens Stole My Boyfriend" takes a sharp left turn is in the sudden tone shift as Cindy attempts to murder the aliens in cold blood, at one point trying to enlist her boyfriend of all people to do the deed.  Not only that, but she shows zero remorse or any interest in anything at all but getting her life the way she wants to live it.  Her character is shockingly one note, showing absolutely zero range, which isn't fair to Wood who, as an actress, clearly has the chops to do so much more.

Come to that, every character here is one dimensional and their performances are largely one note. Rodger is a dunce.  The two sexy aliens are . . . well, they're sexy aliens looking for boyfriends.  They're not allowed a whole lot of room to explain much about themselves or what they want out of life besides men.

Despite the writing, a big "hats off" has to be given to Stephens and Pekhtereva who give their roles so much oomph that their ridiculous lines and actions somehow feel natural.  Despite the '60s kitsch, their performances provided the film its center.  If they'd have failed their performances, the whole film would have fallen apart.

GROOVY, DADDY-O

I completely missed the point of the conclusion -- what's with Rodger's expression?  Are there more aliens on the way?  Did he just have a lightbulb moment?  If so, what is it that he's thinking?

Production wise, it's a really well done film.  Ricky Hess' direction is spot on, and aside from a couple transitions that felt jarring (particularly when the sexy aliens first appear) the editing is effective.  There's a couple issues with the sound design, where you can hear the actors' dialogue pop in and out of the mix, but that's a small complaint.  I loved the surf rock tunes on hand, and Debra Hess also wrote the soundtrack, which on the whole complimented the action.  There's also some quality CGI which is done remarkably well considering the budget.

My main issues with the film however are to do with logic and the writing.  To some degree, these can be forgiven because they're channeling the B-movies of the '50s and '60s.  Those films also had lapses in logic and continuity.  But here, there's an injection of mean spirited gravity that marks this film as a bit more serious than those genre pictures, and as a result, the writing was more distracting than it might have been otherwise.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 1.5 / 5.  Al Hess' script moves the story along slowly, doesn't make a whole lot of logical sense and has some seriously one note characterizations.
Directing: 3.5 / 5.  I liked the camera movement in this film, particularly the zoom in on Wood as she berates the aliens.  The scenes didn't quite know how to move from one to the next, though, and the transitions were distracting.
Editing: 3 / 5.  Ricky Hess also edited the film, and honestly it seems like in certain instances there wasn't enough footage to cover the transitions properly.  So while it's partially a directing problem, some of the blame rests on post-production, as well.
Sound/Music: 2.5 / 5.  The music by Debra Hess was decent.  I much enjoyed the Horror Hotel theme song by Royal Teague.  The surf rock was good to hear as well.  Then there's the sound design issues I mentioned earlier.
Acting: 3 / 5.  Wood is a far better thespian than her role allows her to show.  Stevens and Pekhtereva are the real stand outs here.  Freeman is passable in his role as Rodger.  James Edward Thomas delivered as the sleazy Al Sharko.

Final Grade: 2.7 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Aliens Stole My Boyfriend" on Facebook and the official Horror Hotel website right here.




Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!