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Review: XENOPHOBIA (2019)

Six people who have been affected by alien encounters and or abductions meet for mutual support and to exchange stories. That’s the framing device for Xenophobia, the new science fiction/horror hybrid anthology film from Vision Films. I’d heard some interesting things about it, but the early reviews had somewhat curbed my enthusiasm. So what do I think now I’ve seen it?

Xenophobia has four actual stories plus a wraparound segment involving the support group. That’s the weakest part of the film, with on-the-nose dialogue and a final surprise that’s no surprise at all. Even worse, since there seems to have been no communication between the filmmakers the stories seem so disimilar the segment really doesn’t tie them together. Director Steven J. Escobar, (Frankenfake), drops the ball on this, though wraparounds tend to be most anthology’s weak points. The stories themselves are a mixed bag.

Xenophobia

“Pinnacles”, which is also directed by Steven J. Escobar, is an extremely short tale of abduction that feels like it’s just there to pad out the film’s run time. Eric (Baker Chase Powell, Hi-8, Irrational Fear) is a photographer who gets zapped into an alien craft, probed, and released. That’s it, there’s no conflict, no tension, just what feels like a recreation from one of the cheaper UFO documentaries.

“Doomsday” involves campers Harry (Nick Principe, Sky Sharks, FP2: Beats of Rage) and Becky (Kristen Renton, American Zombieland, Days of Our Lives) who encounter an alien and a cursed crystal. This has the film’s best alien and some nice burn effects. It also has laser beams from the eyes, effects that look like they came from an 80s TV show. Director Joe Castro, (Terror Toons, The Young, the Gay and the Restless), manages to keep it all interesting, even if it could have used some further editing.

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“Star Child” also from Escobar is a little different. It’s related by Karen (Brinke Stevens, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Hot Tub Party Massacre), the mother of the victim, based on a video from a cell phone. Cynthia (Lisa M. Garcia, Summer Of The Massacre) is a babysitter who has to protect a baby from aliens. There is some good suspense and fairly well-done creature effects on display here.

“The Sullivan House” starts like a female vigilante film as several women torture suspected wife-beater Edgar (Mark Hoadley, It Wants Blood!, I Spill Your Guts 2). He insists his wife is dead and has been replaced by an alien creature. But nobody is going to believe a story like that. Thomas J. Churchill, (Check Point, Devilreaux) quickly takes this episode in the direction of The Thing with Xenophobia’s bloodiest effects.

Then we get the less than impressive wrap-up of the wrap-around. Sharp-eyed fans of Todd Sheets films may spot some of his regular cast members Dilynn Fawn Harvey (Clownado, Hi-Death), Douglas Epps (Bonehill Road, Dreaming Purple Neon), and Jack McCord (Hi-Fear, The Final Caller) among the victims.

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It’s interesting to note that none of the directors, (who also wrote their segments), are primarily directors. They all have experience in the role, but Castro is primarily an effects guy while Escobar is an editor. Churchill has several films listed as in various stages of pre-and post-production, but is mainly a producer. That may explain some of the poor writing, bad acting and other problems that plague Xenophobia’s segments.

Overall, Xenophobia wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, but it was far from as bad as some of the reviews would indicate. It’ll pass the time on a Saturday afternoon fairly well.

Xenophobia is available on VOD, streaming, and DVD. You can check its Facebook page for details.

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