“Alien Goddess” available on Blu-ray on Amazon.com!
After school hours is more than just detention, it can be paranormal purgatory when a class reviewing an education course about death, a saucy night photoshoot with a camera man and two models, and two lovers rendezvousing in the hallways are trapped inside the confines of the school building, unable to leave to exit the structure that is seemingly protecting them from an excruciatingly painful force that rings their ears and causes nose bleeds. Cell phones cease to work and those outside the building inexplicably can’t see or hear their pleas for help. Without much choice, they roam the hallways in search for answers, but something sinister is behind the walls, a force of evil that manifests out of a formless haze and towers over them. The alien presence is a wonder to behold and is just as deadly when collecting the hapless souls stuck inside the building with the life-taking lifeform.
Unless you’re a whizz kid and enjoy academia like I enjoy horror movies, most people don’t want to be in school. If you’re at school during the night and trapped with an amorphous alien with long, sharp talons, then you definitely relish in the terrors of school a lot less! That’s the surreal sensation of Andreas Marawell’s 2022 cosmic horror “Alien Goddess.” Marawell, who also penned the film, directs his fourth feature length production, following up from another supernatural hellbound-ish picture, “Black Ghosts,” from 2015. Marawell trades damned deadly spirits for a more unearthly malaise with many of the interior shoots of inside the Östra Real, one of Sweden’s oldest schools, along with the other shooting locations around the country, such as Matteusskolan and Solna. The indie sci-fi horror is the filmic production of the audio editing and record studio, Swesound Studios, and is self-produced by Andreas Marawell as well as George Beckman (“Flame Beings,” “Black Ghosts”) and Vassllis Maravelias.
The Swedish produced film comes with a lineup of indie Swedish or other European and Asian-born actors that roam the halls filled with dread and a presence that has selected them for the seizing. “Alien Goddess” has no real principal lead but an ensemble principal cast to shadow through the dark corridors. The ensemble is separated into three groups: Group 1 – an intimate night class with the subject on death taught by instructor Lori (Birgitta Rudklint, “Black Ghosts”) with very knowledge and interested in death students in Alice (Gloria Ormandlaky), “A.Z.A.B”), Phillip (Sebastian From), and the most peculiar, perhaps slightly autistic Max, played by Johan Sjöberg wearing a bad wig. Group 2 – a suggestive bad schoolgirl shoot with models Julie (played by the real-life fetish model and professional dominatrix by the name of Luna Dvil) and Dorothy (Johanna De Vera) in front of Paul Ray’s (Okan Akdag, “Control the Hunt”) photo lens. Group 3 – a lovers’ tryst between Wendy (Karin Engman) and Miranda (Julija Green) that goes deep into an existentialism and identity conversation that alludes to what’s to come. After a few fall into the Alien Goddess’s daggerish claws, the groups merge together, coming and going, becoming lost in the tenebrous tomb that was once a place for learning (and apparently naked photoshoots). Most of the story progression is pretty straight forward, people become trapped and die off one-by-one for the most part, but there’s a bit of sleight of hand with Miranda, one of the two lovers, who morphs into another person (Chantel Gluic) that is reticently connected to the extraterrestrial presence in a way that’s about as clear as mud. Every other character’s is fairly straight forward under the power of their will until faced against their maker as they try to escape the imprisoning school.
If the abstract of cosmic horror isn’t already opaque enough, “Alien Goddess” is no different with a roundtable approach to introducing cast without actually introducing the cast. Instead, Marawell dives right into their realm of happenings with discussions about the various stages and processes of death decay, an intense and provocative classroom photoshoot that whitewashes men’s sexual misconceptions of women, and nightmarish dreams of depersonalization that Wendy has of girlfriend Miranda changing into someone else and that someone’s dreams are Mirandas. I believe much of “Alien Goddess’s” themes revolve around identity and fear of death that shapes into a Carl Jung smorgasbord of psychotropic maladies that consists of disconnection of self through past dreams that aspire to an unfit future, compounded by the conscious notion of human mortality, and spliced with a sexual awkwardness that all factors into their common predicament that is very much a nightmare where the trapped groups are in an arcane space between reality and subconsciousness. Marawell also creates a colorful, strobing ambience for the groups that differ from outside the school or from those unaffected and view the school from the outside in. The combination of deep lighting gels and tints, mostly in a blue hue, flickered by the white orb light of a dancing flashlight and the flipping on-and-off of the overhead room lighting sends viewers into the portal of purgatory, so if intense strobing negatively effects your senses or triggers your known epilepsy, you’ve been warned as there is no caution before the film itself. “Alien Goddess” pays homage to the select sci-fi horror works of the late English filmmaker Norman J. Warren (“Inseminoid”) and also pulls heavy inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmicism and the fear of the unknown as well as delivering the dialogue in prose akin to the Edgar Allen Poe’s Gothicism and macabre, as adverted to with a complete collection book of Poe’s being read and referenced to indirectly by a couple of characters. “Alien Goddess’s” hodgepodge of literary and psychological inspirations often feels jumbled, clunky, and dissonant when clashing with the amorphic idol storyline of a beautiful, awe-inspiring, ethereal evil with eye plucking and chest puncturing bestowments.
“Alien Goddess” is perfectly bizarre and unsettling to fit into the Darkside Collection catalogue of uncanny esoteric obscurities. The distributor’s high definition, 1080p, Blu-ray release is presented in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio on an AVC encoded BD25 and, unfortunately it shows the inferiority of the low storage capacity against compressing the high-density array of colors and luminance during confined and compacted night shoots. Banding and posterization plague an already heavily digital noise image, leading to no details to be delineated and leaving a contour-less and smoothed over appearance on all focal objects. The result is not terribly unforsaken as far as quality goes and the Marawell effect establishes an eldritch presence despite the lossy definition on a high-definition format at a decoding average of 20Mbps. “Alien Goddess” would have been just fine on DVD. Though a Swedish production, the audio mix is half-English, half-dubbed English 5.1 surround with lossy compression. Consistent electrical interference just beneath a monotonous overlayer of electrical zaps and isolated character actions, lots of shuffling feet no matter the floor surface. Half the actors’ dialogue is in a not-so-terrible dub; the performers are dubbed include Luna Dvil, Sebastian Form, and Julija Green for a semi-seamless, second language experience. Bonus features include Darkside Releasing trailers and interviews with the “Alien Goddess” cast and crew, or so does the back cover states but in reality, it’s all cast with response-portioned interviews from Okan Akdag, Birgitta Rudklint, and Johan Sjöberg. The physical Blu-ray comes in a traditional blue snapper keep case with Lovecraftian inspired, mustard-colored composite art of Octopus tentacles protruding out of a woman’s mouth with the school’s silhouette in the background. “Alien Goddess” has a runtime of 107 minutes and is unrated. Andreas Marawell directs theories and contexts of psychological art and science into an untapped nerve too hard to reach that “Alien Goddess” will simply fall short of being absorbed as full-blown cosmic terror.