Not many horror films truly scare me these days. But alien horror? Even the ones substandard to most send me into a fear frenzy. That’s why I’m taking a deep dive into the sub-genre.

Welcome to “Aliens Scare Me”. A look into alien horror films on a case by case basis. Today’s movie was a first time watch for me. A little film called Altered.

What it’s about: Directed by one of the co-directors of The Blair Witch Project, Eduardo Sanchez, Altered is a 2006 direct to home video alien film that flips the script and has a group of rednecks abducting an alien from the woods. The writer of the film, Jamie Nash, said it was originally intended as a comedy horror tribute to Sam Raimi and Evil Dead 2. HoweverSanchez decided it would be too hard to sell. You can tell while watching this film that it had moments in it that could have gone full comedy. One wonders how that would have altered the film…

In Altered, a couple of buddies use a series of bear traps to kidnap an alien running through the woods. Freaked out once they have the alien in their van, they begrudgingly decide to take it to their ex-friend Wyatt’s house. Wyatt (Adam Kaufman) is an alien-obsessed paranoid, walking around his house with a shotgun and bottle of whiskey in the middle of the night. Yet, he is somehow the most put together of the four. Go figure.

We find out through some serious plot exposition as the film goes on that these four have been abducted before and these aliens have taken over their entire lives, even killing one of their brothers. The far more interesting part, of course, is what’s going on with the alien in the goddamn van.

The abductees have become the abductor and as our fate would have it? That aliens Airbnb experience is going to be with a group of rednecks in the mouth of the holler. Great. Grand.

Why it’s scary: Altered is not going to scare many people. Many will take one look at the alien (which is admirably done using practical effects but takes a moment for the eyes to assimilate) and be out for the count. It’s big, green and its face opens up like a Polly Pocket with a thousand sharp teeth. It’s fingers are long and sharp. It’s a lot to take in. But me being me? Still freaked me out.

There’s some interesting world building that goes on in the movie as far as the aliens are concerned that also gives me the heebie jeebies. The aliens, we find out, have tiny little freaky ass spider looking trackers buried deep inside their stomachs they use to call their friends. They also put them inside of the humans they abduct.

If this particular alien bites you with its aforementioned Polly Pocket tooth surprise, your skin will slowly degrade all over, leaving you looking like the bathtub lady from Cabin Fever. All. Over.

The aliens also have the ability to take over the mind and body of any human being that looks them in the eye. A little too vampire-y for me on that one, but still.

There are several intense moments in Altered where the alien gets loose in this small house in the dark. It realizes it’s outnumbered and you can tell it’s both pissed off and scared. It has definite “deer trapped in an Applebee’s” energy. Side Note: I’ve never actually seen a deer trapped in an Applebee’s before but with all the shit on their walls and those tacky lamps hanging everywhere? I mean, you can imagine. What I’m trying to say is the alien on the loose in the house freaked me out. Like when you try to kill a spider but miss and you just know it’s coming back for you in your sleep.

Ultimately the film didn’t have the budget or the setting to do what it really wanted to do but you can imagine what they could have done if they did. The ending has one of the worst CGI UFOs maybe ever recorded on film and looks like it was stolen off the computer of the guy who made Will Smith’s Wild Wild West. But if you can keep an open mind, there’s a lot to love about Altered including a scene where Andy the alien (I named him to make myself feel safe again) is literally pulling a dude’s intestines all across the room like he’s a human water hose. The scene is wild but then the guy survives for WAY too long after having that happen (what did you just stuff his business back inside of him and smack him on the ass?). Alternatively, a great performance by the late great James Gammon (Lou from Major League) as the Sheriff is cut short by a simple gunshot to the same area.

The scariest part of the film for me, however, is cerebral. Though there is way too much talking in Altered and an extremely forced relationship side story that I’d gladly be abducted to get away from, there is a particularly interesting idea brought up amidst it all. These aliens are simply allowing humankind to live.

It’s mentioned several times that if they kill the alien they abducted, the aliens will destroy all mankind in vengeance. The idea that aliens could exist (and they do exist) and be so powerful that if we ever screwed up as a human race and killed one they could easily just wipe us out? Do you trust us not to screw that up? I don’t. It’s a scary thought that we could be no more than cattle to an alien race…

Where it lands: Altered has a 43% rotten audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.6 rating on IMDB. It has a lot of problems and definitely didn’t have enough budget to see its vision pan out the way it could have. A lot of people won’t see past that but if you’re like me and really into alien shit? Not their actual shit but the topic overall? I think you’ll find a lot to enjoy here and even a little bit to be freaked out by. Altered is a solid 6.5/10 for me.

This content was originally published here.