Alien on Stage is a wonderful idea in theory. The idea of the science-fiction horror drama being brought to the stage is fun in and of itself. The fact that it is done by a community acting troupe comprised of bus drivers adds to the intrigue. The documentary screening at the Fantasia Film Festival is filled with charm, but there are some noticeable flaws.
The film never seems to know what it wants to be. At times, Alien on Stage seems to be making fun of the Paranoid Dramatics (the acting troupe). At other moments, they seem to be in on the joke. It is unclear whether this is about an oblivious group of underdogs in over the heads or a straight up comedy. This lack of clear tone makes it difficult for the audience to figure out what to make of the documentary.
This lack of vision is answered about twenty minutes into the film. Filmmakers Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer obviously care for the Dramatics. So much so that after seeing the disastrous first performance, they helped crowdfund the one night only performance in London’s West End. In other words, they are too invested in Alien on Stage.
When the film concentrates on the making of the play is when it really shines. The recreation of many of the scenes are surprisingly well done. In particular, the Xenomorph looks great. It is also fun watching the actors attempt to bring it all together. There is little insight into their personal lives, but this does not diminish their charm.
Alien on Stage has a lot of promise. It is a fun watch, but it is also a missed opportunity. The film is content to hang around on the outer edges instead of jumping straight in. There are teases of a deeper story, but the audience is never allowed past the surface level. Ultimately, it is the story of a popular movie being made into a stage play.
The Fantasia Film Festival takes place in person and online from August 5 – August 25
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