Calling back to the minimalist sci-fi stories of yesteryear, Ejecta blends found footage camerawork with an Area 51-esque experiment that wants to prove the existence of alien lifeforms. Penned by genre favorite Tony Burgess (Pontypool/Septic Man), it’s a story about paranoia that hits on a possession arc we typically see connected to exorcisms and demonic overtakings – but it’s not one that dares to push the envelope.
What’s been said about extraterrestrial invasions is restated by Ejecta in a lot of the same ways, which only reminds us of past films that have executed interplanetary thrills with far more energy. Whether you’re thinking of the basement scene in Signs, or any first-person chase scene from the Vicious brothers’ Extraterrestrial, directors Chad Archibald and Matt Wiele are only able to produce another bland case of flying saucers and gangly spacemen. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Julian Richings stars as William Cassidy, a rambling recluse who claims to have had an extraterrestrial experience. Becoming an icon amongst circles of conspiracy theorists, he contacts Joe Sullivan (Adam Seybold) and grants him an exclusive interview opportunity that turns into a documentary attempt after Sullivan shows up with a camera. As the two hunker down and prepare to watch a massive celestial event, something crash lands in the distance and unleashes an otherworldly party crasher that attracts the attention of a shady agency. Can Joe and Bill survive not only their alien pursuer, but the fully-loaded agents running around the wooded property?
The biggest draw of Ejecta is lead star Julian Richings, an underrated character actor who has asserted his unique look through movies like Cube and Wrong Turn. Without any makeup or special effects, Richings already looks the part of an experimental guinea pig who could possibly be possessed by some extraterrestrial force (weathered features/scrawny physique). The way his veins pop and his face contorts in a rat-like way makes everyone’s job that much easier, similar to how Javier Botet’s gangly form makes him perfect for haunting horror films. Richings’ charisma comes from these physical attributes, which makes it scarily easy to deliver shocking scenes of torture that exude horrifyingly human results.
Richings is only one bizarre man though, and Ejecta can’t seem to utilize its unique casting advantage beyond having an appealing prisoner. Half the film is spent in a barren government facility, sporting a very top-secrete-initiative vibe, which limits Richings to squirming around in a steel chair complete with restraining fastenings. He’s beaten, brutalized, and tormented by Dr. Tobin (Lisa Houle), but despite some flashy surges of energy, the whole torture device gag grows very tiresome and boring. These are the moments that aren’t found footage, so there’s a more cinematic vibe, but the emptiness of Tobin’s lab reflects the barren nature of Burgess’ limp script. Tobin’s coldness towards life is over-exaggerated, Richards is constrained for too long, and the few scares available fail to raise more than a hair on your neck – it’s just more of the same sci-fi questions being asked in aggressive ways.
Even with Tony Burgess crafting the story of Ejecta, Archibald and Wiele fall into a found footage trap that’s tripped up so many filmmakers along the way. There’s plenty of running, typically when an annoying screeching sound hints that something sinister isn’t too far behind, but you’d never know with the ferocity that Seybold’s character whips the camera around. We also get the military team’s headsets to offer first-person camera views, but their night-vision-tinted snooping provides more of the same scenery – blurred trees, repetitive settings, and cheap jumps every now and then. These moments are messy, dull, and predictably annoying. In other words, Ejecta is everything we’ve come to hate from the found footage genre.
The problem with Ejecta is that it gives horror fans little reason to care about anything. The characters are grossly underdeveloped, the sci-fi storytelling is a bit half-baked when it comes to building any type of conspiracy universe, and the horror is non-existent (unless you count one quick creature flash). Bill and Joe’s wild night isn’t as much an extraterrestrial thriller as it is a recycled grouping of shots from similar movies (Alien Abduction/Extraterrestrial/Slumber Party Alien Abduction), fueled by a script that spends far too long running around a jumbled forest maze of bark and shrubs. Richings tries his damndest, but not even his paranoid, maddened persona can save Ejecta from being another one-note genre snoozer that’ll soon be forgotten like the billions of burned out stars above.
Ejecta is just another sci-fi flick without a true identity, playing off extraterrestrial stereotypes that have been used time and time again.