Alien Abduction Movies

Alien abductions are not in the zeitgeist of the 90s, when the X-Files propelled little green (or gray) men into the mainstream of pop culture. The age of the cell phone has pointed to the dubious nature of the idea that flying saucers are constantly buzzing the Earth in search of human rectum to probe: with everyone filming everything all the time, it’s harder to imagine that we miss so many alien close experiences.

Aliens in movies, around the 2020s, are far more likely to be superheroes( and villains) than outright monsters, which would seem like progress if we hadn’t decided that our fellow humans are also good targets for our existential fears. Who needs invaders from the stars when people seem ready to finish the planet without help? We’re going to examine our own rectums, thank you.

On the other side of the trend, as always, is Jordan Peele, whose new film Nope is out this week. With the admission that I haven’t seen it yet and that I avoid spoilers, it certainly seems to play on the tropes of alien invasion films. He would not be the first filmmaker to rummage around with our (oddly specific) ideas about what the kidnappers of the stars could be: the fear that strangers will come to interfere in our sedentary lives, or completely tear us away from what is known, is powerful and exciting. Here, in terms of spoiler light, are 15 more films about the disturbing horror of the not-known designs of aliens for humanity.

Only a handful of post-Fire in the Sky films have bothered to take the idea of alien abduction seriously; perhaps this is a rather inevitable side effect of the emergence of a culture in which everything is recorded and new conspiracy theories have made the UFO cults of yesteryear seem positively quaint. This movie, with D. B. Sweeney, is about the true story of Travis Walton, an Arizona lumberjack who disappeared for five days in 1975 as a result of a meeting with a secret object and a beam of light—all this was seen by the frightened colleagues who cleverly fled the scene.

The film’s non-fiction lens won’t work for all viewers, but it treats the experiences described by Walton as facts (before embellishing them to make it a more interesting film); although much of the film is about the aftermath of the abduction, the climactic journey in the spaceship is terrifyingly effective.

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