They Are Among Us, Dir. Jeffrey Obrow

Sci-Fi Channel

Starring: Alison Eastwood, Michael DiLallo, Lacey Beeman, Bruce Boxleitner, Nana Visitor

Reviewed by North

This is a TV movie, so probably has to be judged against slightly lower criteria than a theatrical release. By these standards the film fares not so badly, although readers should note from the start that were this a film I had paid money to see in a cinema, I'd probably be spitting bullets about how bad it was.

The story revolves around the teenage Daniel (DiLallo), who is days away from his eighteenth birthday, has just finished high school and is about to go away to college; everything is about to change. He and his childhood friend Devon (Beeman), however, notice other changes going on around them, a mystery that seems to involve the sinister Civic Club led by "Uncle Bob", and Daniel's parents (SF stalwarts Boxleitner and Visitor). They find a hidden box containing inexplicable objects and arcane writings that his parents have kept for years, and a local linguistics professor is unable to decypher the script (except to say that it might be "an early version of Cuneiform"!).

The plot thickens when a young woman called Finley (a rather manic, wide-eyed Eastwood) rolls into town, investigating a series of deaths and disappearances and an unscrupulous plastic surgeon. There is some kind of alien nest in the area, predatory non-humans on the prowl, collagen-hungry aliens paying the surgeon to give them realistic human skins, and the Civic Club planning some ominous event for Daniel's birthday.

By television standards the acting is pedestrian but competent; the effects are cheap, with blue, rubber-suited aliens and action relying on scene-cutting rather than stunts or cgi. The story was sadly thin: this is the sixth film that Obrow has both written, produced and directed in the last 25 years, and while the quality of filming has slowly risen in this time, the writing has not. There are plot holes that Finley's Air Force-father could have flown an F16 through; characters so thinly characterised that some enter and leave the story and one would barely notice. But there are believable moments, and there are moving moments (Visitor is particularly notable as the mother torn between her duty and love for her son).

While there is nothing to particularly recommend this cheap Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake, unless you like watching aliens and high school kids on the same screen, I have certainly seen much worst on the Sci-Fi Channel.

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