Directed by Mickey Reece
Starring Jacob Ryan Snovel, Cate Jones, Alex Sanchez, John Selvidge, Michaelene Stephenson, & John Scamehorn
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Part mockumentary biopic, part film noir, part black comedy, part fantastic existential crisis, Mickey Reece’s Alien is arguably one of the most bizarre imaginings of Elvis you will ever see. Written and Directed by the titular Mickey Reece, his indie film encapsulates so many aspects of classic filmmaking, that one simply cannot be immune to its entrancing seduction, gracefully knotting together an orchestra of cinematic elements to create something quite brilliant.
Shot (almost) entirely in black and white, the movie takes a punt at an alternative reading on the latter part of The King’s (Jacob Ryan Snovel) career, with a particular focus on his relationship with Priscilla (Cate Jones). Covering a few threads of the enigmatic life he supposedly led, audiences are treated to creative licence run amok, with Elvis being a cantankerous bully with domestic violence tendencies, Priscilla being a mopey groupie, and the Colonel (John Scamehorn) sounding like Jabba the Hut reading a bank robber’s ransom. Without going too much into the plot, a development occurs which sees Mr Presley in need of a road trip, whereby he may have to come face to face with a product of his misdeeds.
There is something hugely cinematic about Reece’s film, that transcends any one genre, and instead delivers a movie that is made up of the best part of many. From classic noir films of the ‘40s, to early gangster cinema, to modern black comedies and thrillers, there is a passion for good filmmaking which seeps from the screen throughout. This is then bolstered by phenomenal performances. Snovel in the lead role is completely marvellous to behold, he embodies The King in a way never before seen, that still felt totally grounded and engaging. Jones is a tour de force on screen, regularly battling it out with her on screen husband for the scene-stealer award, and often coming out victorious. Her deadpan delivery and soul-sucked demeanour is one of the best onscreen performances of the year.
Kudos also to Alex Sanchez who plays Elvis’s buddy Joe Esposito. There is a sequence early on in the film at a dinner party with Tom Jones (John Selvidge) which is brilliantly delivered, with a razor sharp script and intense atmosphere it revealed so many character foibles within such a short space of time it was dizzying...in a good way.
Nicholas Poss turns in a superb musical score, with numbers that captured the banality of the scenes whilst turning them into dark and threatening moments of thrilling cinema when needed. In a film about Elvis, the music was always going to play an important part, and Poss knew when to tread lightly, or conversely budge his way in, which shows a great deal of poise and skill.
Aside from being a little on the light side in terms of plot, offering a story which is left slightly underdeveloped, it would be fantastic if more biopics were like Mickey Reece’s Alien. It has all the charm and wit that its central character deserves, but is a stylistic masterpiece that boldly deviates from the popular cultural norm of gratuitous plaudits.