Angels & Aliens

Director: David Fickas

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Originally titled The Basement & the Kitchen (1999), theatrical distribution was evasive, & it hit the dvd market retitled Angels & Aliens: The Basement & the Kitchen.

This is an ultra low budget fantasy shot primariy in a basement & in a kitchen & very much a talk-talk story without much in the way of action. The dialogue is pretty smart so not unbearable, though the writing is a bit stilted in order to conform in the first half with the comic ironies the second half unveils.

Not until the second half of the film does it reveal that it's rather clever in a black comedy manner. But that first half can be really off-putting & dull until its meaning changes retroactively.

Part I: The Basement introduces us to the tale of a little boy who was found in the woods in 1984. Lo these years later he lives in his foster mother's basement & will not come out, certain as he is that something very bad will happen if he goes upstairs or outside.

Lloyd's his name & he has made a a pleasant dim dusty nest of an apartment for himself in his mom's basement. He lives an endlessly paranoid existence avoiding "they" who are beaming mind controls from television screens & satellites. He's periodically finds & destroys one or another bit of nothin' he's convinced is another spy devices.

It's his birthday which he believes to be a particularly vulnerable day. His mother, who he regareds as an alien duplicate of his actual woman who first adopted him, has hired a psychiatrist who makes house calls, whose purpose is to get him out of the basement.

It becomes something of an amateur play with lots of nonsensical things & characters' coming & going from the "stage" of the basement to keep it lively though hardly rational. Sometimes the dialogue is so bad it seems made up at random though it's actually very carefully placed & the phoniness is due to the double-meanings that will later be evident.

Part II: The Kitchen switches the point of view to mom's kitchen, where Lloyd's belief system is item by item shown to have some validity, adding a couple new characters, & still seeming like an amateur play, only now put on in the kitchen instead of the basement.

Kitchen is a lot funnier than Basement & seems a little more likely to be leading somewhere. The reduced percentage of Lloyd's whining voice & bad acting is a big help.

By the end bits of it do seem rather clever & certainly it's not a commonplace film; it does something a little original. Yet overall it never stopped feeling like an awful live play inadequately adapted to the screen.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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