Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Director: Oren Peli
Given that I grew up near and still live close to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, one of the bases at the center of the alien stories in America, I have a fascination with all things extraterrestrial. It only took one watching of the Area 51 trailer to know that I had to add it to my watch list.
As Area 51 is a found footage style movie, it picks up with someone interviewing a group of people regarding the disappearances of three people. Reid, Darren, and Ben were three best friends who always spent a lot of time together before they up and disappeared. Those interviewed mention that something happened in the recent past that made Reid begin acting weird.
The film then jumps to the three friends on their way to a party. After having some fun, Reid loses consciousness and disappears. They later find him standing in the middle of the road. Though he says he's fine, he can't remember what happened to him and really doesn't seem fine. Reid then becomes obsessed with the idea of extraterrestrial life and that there are aliens out there.
He eventually reveals that he believes aliens abducted him that night and that there are others who experienced similar things. Reid convinces his friends that they should go to the base and investigate things for themselves. They first meet up with a friend he met online. Jelena tells them that her dad once worked there and was fired for being too curious, but her father gave her all his secret files and just enough information that they think they can break into the base. Once they finally make it to Area 51, it becomes clear why the military and government moved the base underground.
Did you guess by my synopsis that this was an action packed movie with lots of aliens? You would guess wrong. While there are some strange things that happen and some aliens, it takes a long time to really get going. I understand the importance of setting up the backstory and explaining what happened to Reid, but it really did feel like half the movie or more was just backstory with nothing really happening. Even after they got to Nevada, it was more exposition. They had to meet Jelena, find someone who worked at the base, gather up everything they needed, check out the base, come back to the base, and so on.
The trailer for Area 51 made it seem like it was a movie about people breaking into the base and finding proof of alien beings. While that eventually happened, it took a long time to get there. More of the movie dealt with why Reid started acting weird and what they needed to do to get in the base. I would have preferred if the film started with them actually in the base and flashed back to all the other stuff later on. By the time Area 51 finally hit me with the scenes from the trailer, I had pretty much given up on it already.