Directors Greg and Colin Strause are breaking every rule Hollywood has made about alien invasion movies. The typical line is that you need a studio to back you, it needs to be expansive and, above all, it will cost a bundle of money. With their newest film, Skyline, the brothers have subverted everyone one of those rules.
Introduced to most at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, the two directors decided to go around the studio system and independently finance their own flick. Using their own equipment, Greg’s apartment complex, tiny crews and resources available to them via their effects workshop, Hydraulx, the Brothers Strause were able to make the film on fraction of what it costs most studios (though the final number is being kept as their little secret.
A few weeks back, myself and a group of other journalists were invited to Hydraulx to not only take a tour of the various workstations, but watch four never-before-seen scenes from the film.
Starring Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, Brittany Daniel, David Zayas and Scottie Thompson, the film takes place in Los Angeles, where bright blue lights have begun to shine down from the sky. A strange and mesmerizing experience, people begin to walk out of their homes to investigate. What they don’t realize until it’s too late, however, is that an alien force has arrived on Earth and has begun abducting people en masse. Awoken by the lights after a night of partying, a group of friends must find a way to survive.
When you consider that nearly everyone behind the film comes from a visual effects background, it shouldn’t surprise that the film looks aesthetically fantastic. While the Brothers Strause may not have spent $250 million, every penny they did spend is on the screen. The scenes they showed us for the film were not entirely finished, some of the effects still needing to be completed and the musical score not yet done, but they were certainly eye opening.
Next, we follow the gang down to the parking garage, now joined by Candice (Daniel) and another girl. They see an older couple packing their car, but when they are offered help they refuse. Candice is angry at Terry, presumably for cheating on her in a previous scene, and the group splits up into two cars to exit the building, Terry’s car in front. As they begin to drive out, a giant elephant-like foot comes out of nowhere and crushes the front car, shaking it off like it’s a piece of gum. Somehow surviving, Terry crawls out and begins to shoot at the creature. The alien then shoots out a tentacle and sucks Terry in. The alien then attempts to attach its tentacles to the other car, containing the rest of the group.
In the third scene, we get not only our first look at Zayas’s character, Oliver, but one of the smaller aliens as well. The alien has grabbed a hold of a human (not one of the members of the group) and has attached its tentacles to his head before ripping it off. The alien then removes the man’s brain and put it in his own head as the others can only look on in horror
The fourth and final scene takes place in the penthouse where the group watches out the window through telescopes to see what’s happening. A group of human flown bombers and jets take to the sky as a group of drones fly out from the alien mothership. The planes execute incredible alien maneuvers as they dogfight the humans sometimes besting the aliens, the aliens sometimes besting the humans. It becomes clear that one of the bombers is more important than the others, but it’s not explained why. The bomber approaches the mothership and, just as it fires off a missile, it explodes as an alien drone catches up to it. The missile, however, connects with the huge alien ship and explodes in a giant, nuclear blast.
While it’s both unreasonable and unwise to judge a film’s quality before it’s either completed or shown in its full form, I will say that I’ve never seen anything quite like Skyline before. The design of both the aliens and the spaceships look wholly original, not an easy task when the sci-fi genre has been around for almost a hundred years. While a few secrets were divulged over the course of the day – including that a sequel for the film already exists in the form of a 40 page treatment – the Brother Strause’s film still holds many secrets, not limited to why the aliens are attacking and what happens to our heroes is. Even the nuclear blast in the fourth clip doesn’t provide any closure, as the filmmakers told us that the biggest plot points occur later in the film. All we can do is wait until the film is released on November 12th.
For full coverage of the Skyline Preview, click here to see my recaps, interviews and more!