I really am like Charlie Brown facing Lucy with the football, sometimes, when it comes to movies: Even though I should know better, I still trust that it’s gonna work out… and then I want to kick myself for being such an idiot. Recently two movies toyed with my love of 20th-century UFO lore to get up my hopes for some good science fact-ion action, and then utterly failed me to the point where I began to question my own pathetic geeky anticipation: Extraterrestrial, with its alien abduction theme, and now Hangar 10, which plays off the infamous Rendlesham Forest incident in the 1980s, the best-known UFO encounter in the U.K. (Disclaimer: I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ve been visited by aliens, but, like Fox Mulder, I want to believe.)
Wikipedia has more on Rendlesham: basically, USAF personnel using an RAF airbase in Suffolk, in a remote area northeast of London, may or may not have witnessed some extraterrestrial craft in the vicinity. In this low-budget British indie, director Daniel Simpson, whose previous feature is a horror flick called Spiderhole, tosses three people into Rendlesham Forest today and lets them wander around for 80 minutes until they stumble upon a science-fictional idea with possible story potential, except that that’s when the end credits start to roll. It’s a depressingly familiar trap that SF indies fall into: they fumpher around on the way to their cool idea and then don’t know what to do with it, so they give up.
Depressingly familiar traps of the found-footage genre are on offer, too. It’s simply not in the least bit interesting to follow around documentary filmmaker Jake (Danny Shayler) as he follows around his ex, Sally (Abbie Salt), and her new guy, Gus (Robert Curtis), a metal-detector enthusiast leading them on an illegal stomp around former MOD land at night on a hunt for lost Saxon gold. The vast majority of this yawningly tedious “thriller” features the three wandering lost in the woods, with some mysterious lights in the distance and a couple of audio dropouts on Jake’s footage perhaps meant to indicate alien activity.
If found footage has, alas, come to be an excuse for storytellers to completely bypass drama, character development, and plot in an attempt to be “authentic,” then Hangar 10 might be the “best” example of that yet. Simpson doesn’t appear to get that suspense is more than just waiting for something — anything! — to happen. I suspect he intends his not-at-all spooky flick to be ambiguous and mysterious, but it feels less than half imagined and barely realized.