One Of The Most Divisive Films This Year
Extinction is likely to be one of the most divisively received films this year. On the surface, Extinction’s clichéd tale about a family struggling to survive in the midst of an alien invasion. Under the surface there’s a completely different film at work, running parallel to the one we see which only surfaces during an almighty left-field plot twist which changes the entire complexion of the film. It’s here that people are either going to love or hate the way Extinction steers itself off the beaten track. An unresolved ending and some truly idiotic character decisions aside, Extinction does just enough to make itself a compelling watch but its plot twist ultimately offsets the pacing in an otherwise pretty good invasion film.
After a brief introduction to the world, we catch up with Peter (Michael Peña), a man grappling with visions of an alien invasion while trying to keep his work/life balance in check. With his concerned wife Alice (Lizzy Caplan) and two children Hanna (Amelia Crouch) and Megan (Lilly Aspell) begging him to get medical help, the family find their world turned upside down when an alien invasion sends the world into chaos. From here on the film twists and turns its way from one action set piece to the next, sprinkling some tense altercations into the midst for good measure before unleashing a controversial plot twist late on before its climax.
For the purpose of this review we won’t divulge into details what this plot twist consists of but suffice to say it didn’t seem initially clear or hinted at during the film’s 90 minute run-time. However, having re-watched large chunks of the first half of the film, there are a few cleverly disguised hints at what’s to come but thanks to the editing and sound, it’s obscured behind the facade of what the film presents itself to be. Ultimately it’s this twist that will either make or break the film for you. Personally, the plot twist does just about work but it also feel very clichéd and well-trodden, especially given recent trends in works of fiction.
The actual film itself is plunged into darkness for large portions of the run-time too and while this certainly helps to build a suspenseful atmosphere, it does make it difficult to discern exactly what’s going on. Like fellow apocalyptic film How It Ends earlier this month, Extinction really suffers during these dark periods with multiple flashing lights and rapid cuts obscuring viewpoints and making some of the action more sloppy than it should be. There are some nicely framed shots here though and there’s a great use of hand-held cameras to really accentuate the frantic chaos that grips large portions of the film.
There’s no denying that Extinction certainly has its enjoyable moments but illogical character decisions and a divisive plot twist make this a film that you’re either likely to love or absolutely loathe. An open ending and profound lack of closure to a lot of the characters’ stories doesn’t help the film either. Re-watching parts of the opening act after the initial incredulous reaction to the plot twist did help but Extinction doesn’t feel like a great or a bad film. Instead, it lurks somewhere in the realm of being a fun popcorn flick but not the sort of film you’d ever really re-watch or go back to in a hurry making it a mediocre offering at best.