Continuing their recent trend of acquisitions, IFC Midnight has tossed another found footage alien adventure into the ring with Daniel Simpson’s Hangar 10 – a monotonous effort that somehow makes Alien Abduction seem endearing, exciting, and extraterrestrially invigorating. Yet again a filmmaker experiments with shaky camera angles, choppy footage and off-camera action while supposedly creating the next great invasion thriller, dragging audiences down a disenchanted road without a modicum of entertainment in sight. The Vicious brothers recently schooled science fiction buffs with their own invasion flick, Extraterrestrial, yet Daniel Simpson’s film learns nothing from the more jovial genre ploy by revering back to boredom, sluggishness, and inconsequential storytelling that focuses on anything BUT non-stop action. The thrills fall flat, the scares die quick, and we’re left with a few treasure hunters sporting some nasty, aggravating attitudes, who spend most of their time mesmerized by flashing lights – like moths to a dimly lit, barely sustaining flame.
Taking place some 30 years after the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident, a group of literal gold-diggers find themselves experiencing what appears to be an extraterrestrial phenomenon. Gus (Robert Curtis), Sallie (Abbie Salt), and Jake (Danny Shayler) set out in search of Saxon gold, illegally trespassing in order to uncover buried treasure, but their nightly navigating reveals flashing lights that appear to have eerie powers. After capturing footage of a what appears to be a spaceship, the group finds themselves in the middle of alien activity that throws off all their equipment, stranding them deep in a highly wooded area. Can these friends make their way to safety before becoming fully entangled in whatever strange activity is happening above their heads?
Hangar 10 is the bastard stepchild of the found footage genre, genetically compromised of everything frustrated horror fans have come to despise. Simpson and co-writer Adam Preston spend what seems like an eternity building a story without much intrigue, relying on sparse flashes of anti-gravity floating and a stringy fungus-like substance to balance out quick cuts, snowy distortion and the biggest cop-out in horror history – lights. I’m all for a psychological thriller, because not every sci-fi flick can brazenly showcase a confidence in their creatures like Extraterrestrial, but Simpson’s bright tactics are incomparably boring, even for a movie favoring a constant sense of mystery (that eventually evolves into a never-ending confusion).
There’s nothing threatening about beams of light appearing and then blasting directly into the sky, yet Hangar 10 finds comfort in repeating the same frustrating cycle over and over again as far as any traces of “horror” are concerned. I get that outdoor found footage movies of this nature will inevitably include at least one or two scenes of characters hearing twigs snapping in the distance, reacting with frozen faces, but these scenes find success in moderation. Simpson instead gets drunk off such throw-away material, adding flashing lights into the mix as a force we’re supposed to fear upon sight, but choosing not to reward audiences with more substantial extraterrestrial reveals proves to be the filmmaker’s FATAL mistake.
Hangar 10 suffers from being a half-baked effort comprised of a few interesting scenes better suited for a quick short film, as the hundred-minute-plus runtime plays out with the intensity of watching paint dry. In an attempt to create relationship drama, Simpson pits the two male characters against each other by giving one a past with Sallie while the other is currently dating her, but the dramatics quickly become a wasted afterthought once the disco-ball-horror begins. None of the actors are remotely compelling based on formulaic arcs, characters nonsensically run off on their own with an apparent death wish, and we find ourselves wanting Gus and company to remain behind the camera as much as possible so we can avoid another awkward dialogue exchange or emotionless monologue.
Daniel Simpson certainly attempts to master slow-burn tension, but Hangar 10 ends up being a what-not-to-do prototype that found footage haters will turn into their prime example of a dead subgenre. Utilizing nothing but darkness to create intensity, audiences will quickly realize there’s little substance besides a few overhead vehicles flying about with intensity, as Simpson doesn’t think tangible evidence is necessary when creating suspense. Hangar 10 speeds along without stopping for explanations, uncovering fishy plot points that are quickly forgotten, which equates to a feeling that we’re stuck watching Jake scream at the sky for hours on end – or maybe that’s just what you’ll feel like doing after the dust settles on yet another alien abomination.
Hangar 10 is a horrifying endeavor for found footage fans and alien enthusiasts alike, but for all the wrong reasons.