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Film / Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County

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Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County is a made for Found Footage TV horror movie which aired on UPN in 1998. It is a remake of a lower-budget predecessor known as UFO Abduction (which had been circulated in ufologist circles, sans opening and closing credits, as "the McPherson Tape"), filmed a decade before by the same director. This is sometimes the source of confusion as to which version people have seen.

The story focuses on Tommy, the 16-year-old son of the McPherson family, filming his family's Thanksgiving Day dinner on home video. When Tommy and his brothers set out to investigate a power outage, they come across a UFO and spot aliens using a laser to dissect a cow. After the aliens notice them and open fire, the McPherson family spends a harrowing night fending off an extraterrestrial home invasion.

Like The War of the Worlds before it, Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County incited controversy, as the found footage style it was presented in caused many people to believe it depicted an actual alien abduction. The premise is similar to that of The Blair Witch Project, which it predated by a year, and the film is quite sinister and surprisingly frightening. Parallels can also be drawn to the famous Hopkinsville Goblin incident.

Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Dean Alioto comments on this re: the transition from his original film to the made for TV remake. The former cast local, unknown stage actors for their improv ability, while the latter cast working professionals - who were more conventionally good looking.
  • Agent Scully: One of the Talking Heads - a filmmaker who dismisses the tape as a hoax.
  • The Alcoholic: Mom. She's at the stage where she's hiding vodka bottles from her sons.
  • Alien Abduction: It's in the title.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Played with. They instigated the conflict and often appear to be deliberately screwing around with the McPhersons at several points. But one of the brothers rationalises that the Aliens invaded the house to assess a threat as they may have thought Tommy's camera was some sort of weapon - certainly the behaviour of the first 'intruder' seems to hint at this. After Kurt guns down said intruder, however, things become more threatening.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: The boys first see the aliens dissecting what is presumably a cow since it can't really be seen and the boys have to explain what's going on.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Used and mildly deconstructed. Itís strongly implied- and explicitly stated by some of the characters- that the aliens thought Tommyís camcorder was some type of weapon which leads to them investigating the family and everything that comes after. Itís the logging of the apocalyptic log thatís triggering the apocalypse.
  • Artistic Licence: At one point in the film, Tommy's battery is running low and a message 'Low Batt' flashes on the screen. Anyone who's ever used a video camera could tell you that such a message wouldn't appear on the recorded video.
  • As You Know: Linda informs Kurt, Tommy, Rosie and grandma - and by extension, the audience - that the McPherson father is dead.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: The film's supposed authenticity is undermined by credits at the end for the actors who played "Alien #1, Alien #2", etc.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The mixed race Renee is the first to get hit by the aliens' laser. She's the only character whose death is confirmed.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Linda (blonde), Mel and Renee (brunettes), Mom and Rosie (redheads). If one includes the boys then Kurt is the blond, Brian is the brunette and Tommy is a sandy blond filling in as the redhead.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Tommy pees his pants during an early encounter with the aliens.
  • But Not Too Black: Kurt is annoyed at Mel bringing home a black boyfriend. But he doesn't show any ill-will towards his brother's girlfriend—who is black, but much lighter skinned. Could add another layer to his prejudices.
  • Casting Gag: One of the interviewees is a special effects director who says ďItís unnerving because if itís a hoax, I should have been the one that directed it.Ē - he's played by Dean Alioto, director of this and the original 1989 video.
  • Creepy Child: Kurt's daughter, Rosie, who is disturbingly calm during the ordeal.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Subverted since it's only about ten minutes before something happens and then we see the characters develop along the incident.
  • Disappeared Dad: The McPherson father has died some time ago. A literal example halfway through the film with Kurt.
  • Foregone Conclusion: It's said at the start that the family disappeared and the video was all that was left.
  • Foreshadowing: The aliens' appearances are typically foreshadowed by pixellation in the video, audio distortion or an eerie red glow.
  • From Bad to Worse: The behaviour of the creatures seems to suggest at first they are just analysing a threat - one of the brothers thinks that they thought Tommy's camera was maybe a weapon. He could be right - a single creature infiltrates the house, and corners Tommy in his room, putting him in some sort of trance, and it seems to pick up and look at Tommy's camera before it leaves the room. It's more than likely that the family would have been left unmolested - but then Kurt barricades said being in a bedroom, and shotguns it. Then things get really sinister.
  • The Greys: The aliens featured in the film fit the description to the letter ó lithe, humanoid, pale skinned with black, soulless, almond-shaped eyes.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Aliens attack on Thanksgiving.
  • I Am Not Shazam: The original version is frequently released under the title of "The McPherson Tape", but the family in that film is actually named Van Heese; they were only renamed McPherson for the remake.
  • Immune to Bullets: Shockingly averted for a movie of this type. Kurt guns down one of the aliens with his shotgun and apparently kills it. Later on however, the body is gone.
  • JitterCam: Particularly when the boys are running from the aliens.
  • Killed Off for Real: Renee is the only character whose death is confirmed - as she dies towards the end and has her body covered by Mel. Everyone else is just missing - though Renee's body is unaccounted for as well.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: The aliens screw with Matthew and Linda to make them start kissing, each thinking the other is their spouse.
  • Lady Drunk: The mother. It's a common source of fun for fans to point out that she's never seen without a glass of wine in her hands. The only time she actually puts it down is to sweep up some glass.
  • The Lost Lenore: The McPherson father for his wife. Late in the film she starts wondering if it's his ghost causing trouble in the house.
  • Manly Tears: Tommy breaks down crying while recording his final message on the camera.
  • Meaningful Name: The family were given MacPherson as a surname because it had 'fear' in it.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: The two alpha male figures are abducted early on, quickly followed by Matthew leaving the rest of the family in fear.
  • Never Found the Body: Renee is listed as missing at the end along with the rest of the family, despite apparently dying on camera. The body is unaccounted for.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The most common interpretation is that, as it turns out, shooting one of the aliens only made the situation worse.
  • No Name Given: The McPherson mother, who is only credited as "Mom" and only addressed by her children and granddaughter. Though at one point Linda does say "Rosaline, let's sit down" so that's probably her name.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The aliens are rarely seen, and we're never given a clear look at them, because everytime they're shown, or near, the camera starts pixellating and distorting. The film prefers to have long, tense moments of silence and subtle implications over constant, in-your-face horror.
  • The Ophelia: The mother certainly veers close to it towards the end, though all the wine she's had could be responsible.
  • Papa Wolf: Kurt towards his family.
  • The Peeping Tom: Tommy appropriately enough spies on Brian and Renee with his camera, and pretends he's erased it from the video.
  • Random Events Plot: Lampshaded by one of the Talking Heads and used to vouch for the tape being real - that's there's no real plot other than "getting the hell out of the house".
  • Recut: The TV version is only 45 minutes long, compared to the home video release. "Creepy" music was added, scenes were re-arranged, some scenes at the beginning were trimmed, and there are additional Talking Heads. Thankfully they only show the original version in the UK.
  • Rule of Scary: It's never explained why the aliens cause the appliances in the house to go haywire, other than thoroughly terrifying the protagonists.
  • Screaming Woman: Linda towards the end suffers Sanity Slippage and starts freaking out.
  • Thanksgiving Day Story: The entire film takes place on a Thanksgiving dinner.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Linda - prone to freaking out and Sanity Slippage - is the Child. Mel - who assumes charge after Matthew leaves - is the Wife. Renee - who shows her breasts on camera - is the Seductress.
  • Time Stands Still: One of the aliens seems to freeze Tommy in place while he looks at the camera.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Rosie at one point rather easily takes the shells out of her father's shotgun.
  • Where da White Women At?: Black Matthew is dating white Mel. Which her brother Kurt is not very happy about.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Tommy the youngest sibling is the protagonist and lasts longer than his brothers.