Ejecta Review

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Ejecta (2014)

Cast: Julian Richings, Lisa Houle, Adam Seybould
Director: Chad Archibald, Matt Wiele
Country: Canada
Genre: Sci-fi
Official Trailer: Here

Editor’s Note: Ejecta is now open in limited release and on VOD

No movie that includes an accreditation for “taxidermy wrangler” has the right to be anything near as interminably unexciting as is Ejecta, whose implementation of that original credit is the sole shred of intrigue it manages to awaken. This—that resume-topping title aside—is a dreadful bore of a film, tediously trying to invigorate its over-familiar found-footage aesthetic with an alien interrogation framing device that only serves to distance the viewer all the more from its under-wrought efforts at raising a scare. Less the contained atmospheric thriller that was writer Tony Burgess’ Pontypool than an unconvincing idea executed without anything in the way of originality—see Monster Brawl, produced by co-director Matt Wiele—this new effort feels like anything but, a hapless hodge-podge of all too many old ideas.

Ejecta opens in a manner that might generously be termed brash before revealing the reality of Burgess’ bizarre plotting and the directors’ madcap (mis)handling thereof…

ejecta_2014_2That the movie opens with a dearth of establishing shots alongside its deliberate withholding of narrative clarity confirms that Wiele and co-director Chad Archibald have some grasp of cinematic structure, a fact easily missed when watching the rest of their effort. Ejecta opens in a manner that might generously be termed brash before revealing the reality of Burgess’ bizarre plotting and the directors’ madcap (mis)handling thereof: leaping from videocam footage of a pair of UFO bloggers to the violent interrogation of one at the hands of a shady government operative to the memories mechanically extracted from his head that handily fill in the blanks, this is a classic case of see-what-sticks storytelling that serves only to spread shit all over the floor.

And oh, how it stinks: for scarcely a moment at all does the movie manage to work, each of its constituent thirds both aesthetically and narratively beholden to predecessors of infinite superiority. Here courting suspense with poorly-lit hand-held footage, there subjecting its lead to absurdly over-eager torture, Ejecta commits whole-heartedly to making of each of its distinctive threads as disinterestingly typical an arc as can be. That they’re interwoven, at least, serves slightly to stir things up; if only for the reprieve from superfluous shaky-cam or the over-eager enunciations of a particularly problematic supporting turn, the film’s dipping from strand to strand at least allows for the occasional breath of air, albeit decidedly far from fresh.

Here courting suspense with poorly-lit hand-held footage, there subjecting its lead to absurdly over-eager torture, Ejecta commits whole-heartedly to making of each of its distinctive threads as disinterestingly typical an arc as can be.

ejecta_2014_3There’s an interesting parallel here with last year’s Evidence, which similarly structured itself as an active investigation of footage found after the fact. There, though, you at least had—if only to a limited degree—a plot with some thrust, characters of agency, and an aesthetic approach of some fleeting effect. Here, by contrast, the video recording could scarcely seem more typical of the worst of the trend, equally employing jerky motions and sustained shrieks for a relentlessly wearying time spent staring at an all-but blank screen. That it’s almost better than bearing witness to that which frames it should say a lot: Lisa Houle’s lamentable turn as the ostensible protagonist’s interlocutor has all the overstatement of The Witches’ Anjelica Huston, and not a shred of the fun.

Indeed none of the performers manage to do much with their roles, save mask their shame as the tepid dialogue slides past their lips with all the sharpness of a sponge. Burgess needn’t fear eclipsing his namesake where legacy is concerned; his script is as short on scares as it is stuffed with snores, leaving the poor directors to clumsily cram it all into eighty-two minutes that feel at once, somehow, confusingly crowded and soporifically sparse. All the smash cuts and creepy chords in the world can’t corral a movie as poorly put-together as Ejecta into something even approaching efficient horror; not even the finest taxidermy wrangling in the land could salvage a wreck of this scale.

3.4 Awesome

Ejecta is a dreadful bore of a film, tediously trying to invigorate its over-familiar found-footage aesthetic with an alien interrogation framing device that only serves to distance the viewer all the more from its under-wrought efforts at raising a scare.

  • 3.4
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About Author

Ronan Doyle is an Irish freelance film critic, whose work has appeared on Indiewire, FilmLinc, Film Ireland, FRED Film Radio, and otherwhere. He recently contributed a chapter on Arab cinema to the book Celluloid Ceiling, and is currently entangled in an all-encompassing volume on the work of Woody Allen. When not watching movies, reading about movies, writing about movies, or thinking about movies, he can be found talking about movies on Twitter. He is fuelled by tea and has heard of sleep, but finds the idea frightfully silly.