The cover art for Beacon Point proudly displays a Star Wars-esque spaceship and three spindly-limbed alien types looking as menacing as possible. With an ancient totem atop a flaming mountain you would be forgiven for expecting a Close Encounters Of The Third Kind meets X-Files crossover with thrillingly balanced chills and excitement. “They have been watching…now they are here” boasts the tagline. Perhaps “Stereotypical group head off for cliché-ridden adventure stalked by largely absent, formulaic alien presence” would have been more appropriate. At least the setting is interesting to look at.
In fairness, the Appalachian Mountain location is the most impressive thing about Beacon Point. The dense forests and craggy vistas determine this to be a wild and isolated place; somewhere befitting to a spate of mysterious disappearances, and somewhere those with a dark past can go to lose themselves. One such person is trail guide Drake Jacobs (Briddell) who leads one last group up into the mountains to avoid the discovery of his predictable history. In this final group, there is a millionaire techie out to discover himself, two previously estranged brothers and Zoe (Olivier), a young woman determined to trek into the mountains for her own sentimental reasons. So far, so familiar.
If writer and director Eric Blue did set out to tick off all the relevant alien abduction boxes he manages it with impressive commitment, but in doing so fails to generate any level of homage-laden interest. The narrative lurches from one disconnected set piece to the next, without any real thought as to the How? What? or Why? Required to maintain an audience’s interest. A flicker of a flashback here, a glimpse of an alien there – one paltry glimpse! – does not a horror film make, and only at the end do those questions arise as a noticeable lack of coherent explanation renders the plot unsatisfactorily ambiguous.
Much of the frustration comes from the realisation Blue has the natural eye of a true director, and an inherent understanding of where to position his camera. Visually impressive, Beacon Point is at its best when the striking scenery takes centre stage, and in quieter moments when the cast amble through the wild beauty of the Appalachians.
In hindsight, Beacon Point feels more like a coming of age drama with a peripheral alien presence than an outright chiller. That being the case, much more character development was required to create those an audience might just care about. Could, and perhaps should, have been so much better.
BEACON POINT / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ERIC BLUE / STARRING: JON BRIDDELL, RAE OLIVIER, ERIC GOINS / RELEASE DATE: UK RELEASE TBA