Director Eduardo Sanchez
In 1999 Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick together brought the world The Blair Witch Project. Say what you might about the film, but there’s no denying the impact and the success the movie had. From its unrivaled grass roots marketing campaign to its “mockumentary” movie tie ins, the film had millions duped into believing it was real. The Film was extremely successful however for these 2 first time directors the bar of expectation had been set pretty high.
The Duo went on to write the follow up to the Blair Witch, Book of Shadows, which is an underrated psychological horror gem. But since then both directors have been pretty quiet. Finally, in 2006 both directors announced plans to direct new films. Eduardo Sanchez first film since Blair Witch is called Altered and with it he’s proven that he’s not a “one-note” director.
Altered is the story of 5 friends that were abducted by aliens. Only 4 of them ever were returned, the sixth friends' fate unknown. Forward to 15 years later all 4 survivors are living broken lives. None of them have moved on from the experience and their all haunted by the memories. Three of the friends, Cody, Duke and Otis (played by Blair Witch Alum Mike Williams) have taken to conducting weekend hunts in the woods in order to capture one of their tormentors. The film opens with the capture of an alien by these 3 characters. With the alien tied up in their truck they go to the 4th survivors home, Wyatt, who has taken to living a solitary militia type existence secluded deep in the woods.
Altered takes itself very seriously and that’s a good thing. The concept here can easily slip into silliness if not properly cared for. Luckily that never happens. The actors are top notch and on their game here. They truly seem like haunted people that simply can’t cope with what has happened to them. Cody, played by Paul McCarthy-Boyington, is the typical hot head you find in a group like this but with good reason. It was his brother that never returned from their abduction. Cody was suspected by his own family of killing his brother and burying him when he came back with his wild alien abduction story. Duke and Otis are both men who seem lost and completely altered by their experiences. Wyatt has become something of a hermit secluded in the woods in a house that doubles as a fortress. He has guns hidden throughout the house and seems prepared to take on anything that might come after him.
Sanchez effectively ratchets up the tension in this film as it progresses. From the opening scenes he manages to make a flash light shining through the darkness a frightening thing again. Shooting through doorways and from behind objects he creates an ominous and dark atmosphere that easily permeates dread from his subjects. Altered is a slick and polished horror / Sci Fi film with characters that are very believable and well acted. The only major flaw this film has is the captured alien itself. The creature when fully revealed looks more like a rubber monster from the 60’s than an alien. While the scenes involving the alien are frightening, it is diminished a bit by the aliens appearance. Its hard to really get lost in the moment with an alien that looks like a rubber suit but the acting and the directing greatly make up for it.
Eduardo Sanchez is definitely proving he can do more than hand a camera to some kids in the woods and call it a movie. In fact he’s proven he’s a very talented director and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish on a larger scale and budget.
4 out of 5 Bloody Axes