This review was originally published as part of my coverage of Hot Docs 2015
A group of scientists simulate an encounter with extraterrestrials in The Visit: An Alien Encounter. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs has prepared a scenario of what would be done in the event of an alien life form landing on Earth. The audience is given the point of view of “the visitor,” as the scientists welcome the extraterrestrial to the planet and try to provide a definition of humanity.
The rise of hybrid documentaries over the last few years has seen filmmakers begin to use the documentary medium in less-than-conventional ways, which heavily blurs the line between reality and fiction. In the case of The Visit: An Alien Encounter, the film is documenting an event that has never taken place. The film features a number of real UN scientists, who act out how they would behave if an alien landed on Earth. While much of the film involves these scientists speaking directly to the audience, as “the visitor,” there a number of visually constructed scenarios, particularly a scientist in a bright orange hazmat suit exploring the alien craft, which looks a lot like a library.
The Visit: An Alien Encounter is undoubtedly a film with an interesting concept, even if it doesn’t have the greatest execution. The film is at its best when the scientists are acting out this scenario in front of the camera, which essentially leads into them explaining what it means to be human to the alien visitor. However, it becomes apparent that this simulation alone was not enough to fit a feature length film, so there is much visual filler in the film, including a lot of slow motion cinematography. This makes The Visit a very experimental film, which might not be for everybody.
★ ★ ★ 1/2 | FAIR
- Mon, July 27, 3:00 PM – J.A. De Seve Theatre
- Tue, July 28, 7:30 PM – J.A. De Seve Theatre