A: Altered (2006)

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I really like Eduardo Sanchez’ work. One-half of the directing team who brought us The Blair Witch Project, he’s continued to create interesting takes on standard horror genres, and his first directoral effort after the movie that launched a thousand found footage films is Altered, which starts with a tense in media res sequence and then gives very little chance to relax during its trim 88 minutes.

That sequence involves three redneck dumbasses, Duke (Brad William Henke), Cody (Paul McCarthy-Boyington) and Otis (Michael C. Williams, the only holdover from Blair Witch) hunting at night with a bewildering (and worrisome) variety of weapons. What they’re hunting is fast, smart, and vicious. They do manage to catch it in a tiger pit, and Duke insists they take it to a friend named Wyatt, because “he knows about these things.”

Wyatt (Adam Kaufman) is living in a sort of survivalist compound in the middle of the woods, surrounded by bright lights, weapons of his own, and a workshop/garage. He is not happy to see his old friends, or what they’ve brought him, and his girlfriend who recently moved in (Catherine Mangan) is even less pleased. “Why did you bring it here?” demands Wyatt. “We never thought we would actually catch one!” answers Duke.

It seems that 15 years before, these four guys (plus one more) were on a similar beer-soaked hunting trip when they were abducted by aliens. Duke, Cody and Otis were released after a couple of day of torturous experiments. The aliens kept Wyatt and Timmy – Cody’s brother – for more extreme treatment. Timmy didn’t survive, but Wyatt did – after some, um, modifications. After his release, he performed meatball surgery on himself to remove a tracking implant in his guts, and he’s been hiding ever since. And he knows that if they kill the alien that has been brought to him, the rest of his race will simply exterminate mankind. “You know what happens to an animal after it kills a person.”

Everybody has scars other than physical from the experience; Cody was blamed for his brother’s death, Otis is afraid of everything and Wyatt is definitely suffering from PTSD, with night terrors and paralyzing panic attacks. The movie doesn’t shy away from the many ways trauma can twist your life for years afterward.

The budget of Altered is certainly low, but doesn’t look it; Sanchez spends the money exactly where it needs to go. A lot of your drama and tension is going to come from interaction between the human characters, and the director has always been spot-on with his casting. The effects work is 99% practical, nasty, and won’t age like a lot of CGI from the period.

Altered takes the zombie siege formula, turns it inside out – people are trapped inside a house with something – and certainly worth a look.

Buy Altered on Amazon

4 Comments

  1. […] and Eve vs the Cannibals — Micro-Brewed Reviews Alien: Covenant — The Terrible Claw Reviews Altered — Yes, I […]

  2. Thank you for giving me a title on this vague, late night movie watching experience many a moon ago. Also, have you ever watched Sanchez’s EXISTS yet? Best Bigfoot flick of ever.

    • Well, you know how hard it is to find movies beginning with an E. I’ve got it pencilled in for next year.

  3. […] and Eve vs the Cannibals — Micro-Brewed Reviews Alien: Covenant — The Terrible Claw Reviews Altered — Yes, I […]


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