The Gracefield Incident
In Gracefield, three couples are spending a long weekend in a luxurious cabin when suddenly an uninvited guest in the form of a meteorite, comes crashing the party...
July 21st, 2017
Alex C. Nachi
The Gracefield Incident is another found footage exercise. And you might think that because it’s about aliens rather than – oh, I don’t know – witches – that you’re in for something a tad more original.
You’d be wrong. With previous extraterrestrial found footage films like the terrible Ejecta and the not-too-bad Extraterrestrial – this sub-genre of a sub-genre has already played itself out.
Six friends go away for a birthday celebration weekend at – you guessed it – a cabin in the woods. Quelle surprise! Other than the slightest bit of history for the lead couple, Matthew (writer/director Mathieu Ratthe) and Jessica (Kimberly Lafferriere) – we’re not given much to go on. The group sees a meteor crash in the nearby woods and naturally must investigate. And not surprisingly, alien havoc ensues.
There is an attempt to shake things up in this found footage piece – by having the lead character sporting what is essentially a bionic eye, complete with a camera.
The film borrows heavily from Shymalan’s Signs (more than once) – even going so far as to have a cornfield and crop circles (which the characters are completely flummoxed by) and having an alien leg appear in a flashlight-illuminated corn row. How original.
The film has far too many inconsistencies to simply let slide by.
The film takes its time (in a nicely shot and edited opening credits sequence) to establish that we as the audience will be seeing everything through Matthew’s bionic eye. He takes it out in the car ride to the cabin to creep out one of his fellow weekend revelers and the eye ends up in front of the dog, who licks it and plays with it. And half of the film is seen from this vantage point (the other half is through a camera brought along by another fellow reveler). So in one particular scene – Matthew removes the eye and perfectly places it to see the next few moments between him and his wife (we’re to believe that the eyeball has been recording all of these events). A fight ensues and she storms off into the bathroom. He sulks for a moment before there is a crash and a scream from his wife.
Now… I rewound this next section to confirm that I hadn’t missed anything. Matthew rushes into the bathroom, without grabbing his eyeball. The next shot has him looking at the smashed window in the bathroom – and we’re seeing it “through his eye”. Color me crazy, but if the central conceit and potential selling point of your film is that we see everything through the eyes of your lead character, you better damn well keep things consistent and real.
There’s also the matter of the birthday balloons. On the group’s 9,000th ill-advised excursion into the woods, Matthew wisely thinks ahead and takes a bag of balloons with him – to basically leave as “bread-crumbs” so they can find their way back to the cabin. Thing is – I didn’t see them take some sort of helium supply with them into the woods. So when we see all of the balloons floating as if filled with helium, not hanging drably to the side – it has to make you wonder. And as I’ve said time and time again – if these are the things which your audience is focused on – you’re in big trouble.
All of this inconsistent idiocy is additional to the terrible character choices from absolutely everyone and the use of every found footage trope there is. We’ve seen all of this (and I do mean all of this) before.
Everything here is just so vanilla/par-for-the-course/cliché B.S. When Matthew takes a meteorite from an apparent “crash-site” – well, if you don’t figure out what the rock actually is – within seconds of its introduction, then you need to turn in your movie-fan card. And the opening scene includes a car crash image/scare which has been used in countless other films. Enough already.
The introduction of the cabin owner’s obsession with Bigfoot hunting only served to set up a few scare bits and to allow use of his many security cameras. It felt like a feeble attempt at misdirection. It didn’t work.
The dialogue is atrocious. And since this is found footage, you can wager that a lot of it was ad-libbed as the constant repeats of “Holy shit!” and “Did you hear that?” will quickly wear on your nerves.
And on the topic of terrible dialogue – there’s an exchange between Matthew and Jessica where she is hysterically panicking as Matthew tries to review some of the camera/eyeball footage to find some clues. She’s squealing in the background and he is yelling at her to, “Calm down! Calm down!” And then follows that up with “I’d really appreciate it.”
Huh? Like one of my college besties used to say about Princess Leia’s dialogue in Return of the Jedi when Luke reveals that Vader is his father, she says “But why must you confront him?”
“Who talks like that?”
Other than a few decent moments of acting – it’s generally quite bad. Ratthe exhibits some actual emotion (complete with impressive tears) – but it’s not enough and it never engages or garners any sympathy. Of note, was the awful acting of Juliette Gosselin and Alex C. Nachi as the two younger members of the group. Of course, it didn’t help that the four supporting roles (outside of Matthew and Jessica) have zero history, zero interesting character traits and absolutely nothing memorable about them. Sure, the relationship between Matthew and Jessica is horribly clichéd, but at least those characters got something.
On the positive side, there are several effective “boo” moments which actually made me jump (kudos!) and some nifty visual effects when we finally see the aliens up close. But the actual design of the alien craft was straight out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
There’s not an original bone to be found in The Gracefield Incident. And while it has some promising technical achievements, it’s boring, poorly performed as a whole and you’ll frankly wish you could be abducted by aliens – just to avoid having to wade through this painful 85 minute piece of space-junk.
The film is scheduled for release (in select theatres and on VOD) on July 21st, but you can go ahead and take a pass on this one.