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First Contact Review

July 28, 2023 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
First Contact Image Credit: Uncork'd Entertainment
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First Contact Review  

First Contact Review

Anna Shields– Casey Bradach
James Liddell– Dan Bradach
Chris Cimperman– Kevin
Caitlin Duffy– Jamie
Paul Kandarian– Dr. Ian Bradach
Michael L. Parker– Davis Mason
Grant Schumacher– Zach
Zachary Seekins– Jason
LeJon Woods– Danny

Directed by Bruce Wemple
Screenplay by Bruce Wemple

Distributed by Uncork’d Entertainment

Not Rated
Runtime– 89 minutes

Buy the movie on DVD here. It’s also available via digital and Video On Demand

Image Credit: Uncork’d Entertainment

First Contact, written and directed by Bruce Wemple, is a new sci-fi horror flick that’s currently available on digital, On Demand, and DVD (it came out via the fine folks at Uncork’d Entertainment on June 6th, 2023). It’s a movie filled with absolute dread for most of its 89 minute running time, not to mention heaping doses of weirdness. It loses a bit of steam at the end when we find out what’s really going on, but the ride to that revelation is something sci-fi and horror movie fans should definitely take.

First Contact stars Anna Shields and James Lidell as Casey Bradach and Dan Bradach, somewhat estranged siblings who get together at their missing father’s house. Casey and Dan’s father is Dr. Ian Bradach (Paul Kandarian), a world renowned scientist who was neck deep in weird research. No one seems to know where Dr. Bradach went and he’s basically been declared dead. Casey hopes to use her time at her father’s house to dig into his research (her father left a video diary of what he was working on) while also reconnecting with her brother Dan. Dan hopes to reconnect with Casey, too, while also figuring out what to do with his life. Dan used to be in the military and had a happy family of his own. Both of those things appear to be gone now. Casey is also in the midst of career change as she, too, is some sort of scientist and researcher who lost her government finding. This reconnection is likely going to be difficult as Casey and Dan haven’t talked with one another in years and they were both estranged from their father, too. To say that this is a stressful, emotional situation for all involved would be a serious understatement.

Now, all of this is set against the backdrop of potential massive social upheaval as there are reports in the media worldwide of a coming alien invasion of Earth. People have seen and experienced things they cannot explain and the growing consensus is that Earth is set to be invaded by aliens at any moment. But is that what’s actually happening? Is Earth about to be visited by aliens from another world? Has Earth already been visited by aliens from another world? Or is it something else? Just what the heck is going on?

While all of this is going on, young couple Kevin and Jamie (Chris Cimperman and Caitlin Duffy) experience something incredibly weird while driving home from a night on the town. The best way to explain it is they stop on the road because of something strange up ahead, and when Kevin gets out of the car to get a better look he is attacked/assaulted/overwhelmed by a rampaging light. At first this light attack just seems like a strange phenomenon that they both will remember. But then the next day Kevin starts hearing voices that seem to be taking over his mind and his physical body. Kevin tries to fight off these issues but he can’t. Kevin eventually loses himself and starts to become something else. But what? Has Kevin been possessed by some sort of alien force?

And while all of that is going on, both Casey and Dan experience weird goings on at their Dad’s house, things neither can explain. Casey believes that her father is still at his house despite not physically being there. She grows to believe this more and more as she delves further into her father’s research.

I don’t want to say any more about the plot specifics of First Contact as there are multiple revelations that you should experience as they happen in the movie. I will say, though, that you start to buy into some of them, especially when the movie starts to explain what might be happening. But, again, the movie loses steam the closer it gets to the end and we find out what’s actually happening. The big final reveal is probably too complicated for its own good. I can see how the ending might make an audience cheer and how it might make an audience throw its popcorn at the screen and scream out “What nonsense!” I did a version of the “What nonsense!” bit when the movie ended, but my mind changed a bit after I thought about what I saw. Will audiences in general do the same thing? I’d like to think they would but I can’t say for sure that they will.

There’s also the sort of “slow burn” that the movie engages in while Casey and Dan and the audience figure out what’s actually happening. Is the big reveal profound enough to warrant that slow burn? Should the movie have jettisoned that approach and just gone for the throat hallway through? I can see why someone might come to that conclusion, especially after seeing the movie’s excellent practical special effects. A character goes through one of the nastiest body transformations in recent memory and I can see someone wanting more of that kind of thing.

As for the “science” at the heart of the plot? It’s weird. Really, really weird. The only reason I can buy it is because the characters in the movie buy it. Will people with a better understanding of what is and isn’t “real science” have a different opinion? Definitely. Will it take them out of the movie? It might.

Image Credit: Uncork’d Entertainment

Anna Shields does a nice job as Casey Bradach. Casey goes through multiple emotions throughout the movie, starting out with a sense of loss and profound grief that comes from having your career taken from you at the same time your father presumably dies but no one can say for sure. Everything in her life has suddenly changed. Casey tries to then reconnect with her brother but it isn’t an easy process. There are multiple complications happening for her. And then when she starts going through her father’s house and then his research she starts to develop different emotions. Things seemed pretty hopeless before she got to her father’s house, and there was no reason to think things wouldn’t continue in that direction. But then when she goes deeper into her father’s research it’s quite possible that there is hope for the world. Maybe. Anyone who has experienced profound grief in their life will identify with Casey in multiple ways. A truly fascinating performance.

Image Credit: Uncork’d Entertainment

James Liddell does a fine job as Dan Bradach. Dan is going through complicated emotions, too, but they end up hitting differently than what his sister is going through. Dan has a melancholy that seems to be chronic as his life has been falling apart for longer than Casey’s. Dan has also seemingly lost more than his sister. They’ve both lost their jobs but Dan has lost his family, too. Dan does have some hope inside of him as he keeps trying to call his wife and talk to her but it never seems to happen. Why can’t he give up on that part of his life if it’s so damaged? Why can’t he move on? Dan would rather fight, even if he knows, deep down, what he wants will never happen. Dan can’t join in on his sister’s burgeoning hope, though, as the movie progresses. It all seems too weird to him, so completely out of place. It’s almost like he’s more grounded in the “real world,” or at least he puts up that front more than his sister and sticks with it regardless of what’s happening in front of him. I’m not sure if I agree with how the movie turns out for Dan, but I can accept it. Sort of.

Chris Cimperman gives the movie’s weirdest performance as Kevin, and that’s by design considering what happens to Kevin. Kevin has to fight to keep his identity while also dealing with the aftermath of being attacked by a strange light at night. Kevin puts up a tremendous fight, yes, but in the end he can’t overcome what he can’t understand. It’s a sad situation. It’s even sadder for Caitlin Dufy’s Jamie, as she has absolutely no idea what the hell is going on with Kevin. One day he’s her boyfriend, and then the next he isn’t. It’s still Kevin, but it isn’t the Kevin she knew and loved and lived with. Something else is going on with him. But what? What Jamie goes through is devastating.

Paul Kandarian does a decent job as Dr. Ian Bradach, but we mostly see him via video diary entries. You will believe he is a scientist of some sort who struggles with what he’s discovered. The movie’s MVP when it comes to liveliness and energy is LeJon Woods, who plays Danny, Dan’s friend. We only see Danny via video calls but Danny is a riot. I would love to see a movie just about his character and his life in the world depicted in the movie. I think that movie would be interesting to experience. It would no doubt be a very different movie.

First Contact is a well done if imperfect sci-fi horror flick. The way the movie ends and the big reveal as to what’s really going on may divide audiences, but even with its lost momentum it’s a movie worth seeing. There’s way more good than less-than-good, and that’s what really matters in the end. Give First Contact a shot and see what you think. Do you buy it? Do you accept it?

See First Contact. See it, see it, see it.

Image Credit: Uncork’d Entertainment

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 6

Explosions: Maybe one.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A guy looking for his dog for some reason, power issues, sudden rain, wire crossing, panic in the media, talk about aliens invading Earth, siblings talking, research hooey, a shaking house, parking garage hooey, weird lights, jogging, a weird feeling, glowing red eyes, research hooey, a weird cylinder thing with a countdown clock, bar hooey, a weird pulsing thing on the ceiling, cigarette smoking, choking, exploding head, multiple video diaries, a weird light off in the distance, some bullshit about dark matter, loose skin, weird carvings, off screen reheated pizza, scared kissing, multiple hallucinations, a weird scratching in the coffee table, a thumb drive, Jehovah’s witness hooey, some stuff about a Russian drilling project that drilled several miles into the Earth, stabbing, weird mouth stuff, some serious face melting, serious gut stabbing, hand removal, hot beverage drinking, a very dead dog, a rain attack, makeshift flamethrower hooey, more serious gut stabbing, pitchfork attack, a bunch of lights, and a giant space ship in the sky (or is it?).

Kim Richards? None.

Gratuitous: Delhi, New York, an opening titles montage of TV news reporters reporting on UFO sightings, panic in the media, making a phone call, drinking beer while sitting on the porch, an old house making noises, old family photos, “My First 100 Science Words” book, a shaking house, buzzed driving, making out while driving, weird lights, a phone conversation, fixing the sliding glass door, a locked computer, a conspiracy minded bartender, bong smoking, cigarette smoking, exploding head, alien goo, sunglasses, Jehovah’s witness hooey, a sibling argument, a very dead dog, a bunch of lights, a giant space ship in the sky (or is it?), and some of the world’s shortest closing credits. .

Best lines: “Are. We. Alone?,” “I need to focus. One false move I could, theoretically, turn into dark matter. Or I could turn to dust,” “So things must be crazy for you right now with all the UFO stuff,” “When’s the last time you talked to Dad?,” “Kevin! Get in the car!,” “What was that?,” “Do you remember that thing in the road last night?,” “Do you believe this shit?,” “Did you just say Bradach?,” “Let me ask you a question. Did you know a guy named Ian Bradach?,” “Please tell me we’re not about to see an alien,” “Jamie, find this man,” “Jamie, so much has happened that you do not know,” “Wake up, Casey! Wake up!,” “What do you know about the end?,” “Your extinction is imminent. It’s nothing to be scared of. It’s just the course,” “My skin. It hurts,” “He loved you, Dan. More than you know,” “So what do you want to do? Fuck it,” “We’ve seen you before,” “What are you? I am nothing but a messenger,” “How naïve can you be?,” “Get away from my sister you ugly sonofabitch!,” and “Dad? Casey.”

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
First Contact, written and directed by Bruce Wemple, is a new sci-fi horror flick that’s currently available on digital, On Demand, and DVD (it came out via the fine folks at Uncork’d Entertainment on June 6th, 2023). It’s a movie filled with absolute dread for most of its 89 minute running time, not to mention heaping doses of weirdness. It loses a bit of steam at the end when we find out what’s really going on, but the ride to that revelation is something sci-fi and horror movie fans should definitely take. It’s filled with great performances, great practical special effects, and, again, plenty of weirdness. You may not buy the ending and all of what it involves, but maybe you will. Give it a shot. First Contact is worth seeing. See it, see it, see it.

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First Contact, Bryan Kristopowitz