The Thing I Like About … [spoiler alert]

Alien Abduction: when he found his sister again.

Alien Abduction is a found-footage movie. It follows a family of five as they drive to Brown Mountain in North Carolina. The premise upon which they base having a camera present Every Single Second is that the eleven-year-old boy behind the camera is autistic, and the camera gives him comfort and stability. They are a fairly normal family … except that nobody’s on edge, and everyone’s getting along. They camp out, they drive on, they get lost on a mountain road, they find a row of deserted cars, they go in a dark tunnel where an alien is waiting, they run out of gas – typical family vacation.

We follow the family through the tense adversities and dark, confusing camera angles; we follow them as they start losing one another (I would say “to aliens” but I don’t want to spoil the surprise). We follow little Riley (the boy with the camera) up to the point where he finds himself alone in a dark woods, his family gone, his only light the display from his camera. He was following his sister, but he fell down, and then he couldn’t find her anymore. He sits and turns the camera around and tells it, “I don’t know where I am. I’m lost. I’m scared.” And he’s crying pretty real tears, and he’s eleven, and you can put yourself in his place – because being alone in a dark woods is scary whether there are aliens or not.

And then something grabs him. … and it’s his sister. She grabs him, and holds him in her arms. And then the rest of the horror movie happens, and horror movies always end with the bad guy winning, so … that’s what happens. But even in the weirdly vague images (with weirdly vague sounds) that may mean Riley and his sister were captured rather than killed (a worse fate, almost anyone would argue, especially for a confused eleven-year-old) … it doesn’t seem like a bad ending.

Because when the worst occurred, Riley was with his sister, and she had him in her arms.

Humans go through life struggling for independence. We worry about not being independent – about our health becoming such that we are dependent. We promote freedoms, liberties, autonomy. Nations have fought bloody wars for independence. Countless couples have separated in search of greater independence. People complain about sharing, and about crowding, and about compromise. To listen to us, one would think that we despised the fact that other humans exist.

But the scariest part of a movie about aliens abducting people wasn’t the part where it was loud, or when bright lights came down, or when some people were abducted in a painful, not-suitable-for-return manner. The scariest part was when you put yourself in the place of a kid lost in the night-woods. And you’re relieved beyond words when he finds his sister.

Because when the worst occurs, when we’re really lost and scared and confused, we just want to find someone to be there with us. Even if they can’t fix anything. Even if they don’t know anything. Even if both of you end up vacationing in space on the wrong end of a probe. As long as someone is there with you, the worst is … better.

Everybody dies (hopefully not by probe). And in the end, we just want to do that with someone’s arms around us.

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