Fantasia Film Festival 2021: Alien On Stage

A delightful love letter to community and enthusiasm.

Synopsis: A very amateur dramatics group of Dorset Bus Drivers spent a year creating a serious stage adaptation of the sci-fi, horror film, Alien. With wobbly sets, awkward acting and special effects requiring more luck than judgement.

First, a confession: I have never seen the appeal of the British Christmas tradition of pantomime. However, if more pantomimes were to follow the lead of Paranoid Dramatics and stage recreations of films like Alien I would be much more on board. While the group’s efforts are perhaps not quite as appreciated in their Dorset home town, a chance meeting with a pair of excitable directors from London soon heralds a trip to the West End.

There is little in the way of stylistic flair within the documentary and the sound is variable in places, especially when the film has to contend with busy streets and overlapping voices. Aside from a few clips from Alien itself, the film knows that its heart lies in the interactions between the group so directs all of the focus on them, allowing the space for the naturally funny group to take centre stage.

What the team achieve within their limited means is truly incredible. Ray the nonchalant set designer (a man who wants to ‘do things right’ but otherwise doesn’t want any of the limelight) and Peter the creature designer particularly stand out given their attention to detail in recreating the stage show’s most memorable moments. The cast and crew all share a deadpan sensibility, but there is a warmth to it too.

To paraphrase from the film itself, the success of the production rests on the right piece of art being met by the right audience and that is almost certainly true of the documentary too. It is impossible to get through this without a grin, or even a few happy tears as the team’s performance progresses.

A hugely endearing and joyful portrait of DIY ingenuity, dedication and teamwork with a streak of fun running all the way through.

4 out of 5 stars

4 out of 5 stars

Alien On Stage screens as part of Fantasia Festival. The film is available on demand. Ticket information is available on the webpage.

Author: ScaredSheepless

Film and television fan, with a particular love for horror.

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