Josiah Schneider, Frank Failla, Eloise Gordon, Paolo Kossi
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Chris is a nerd.
He's not just a nerd. He's a UFO nerd. Writer/director Steven Tsapelas's indie romantic comedy UFO Club is set in 1998 and centers around this nerd's efforts to become friends with one of his high school's most intimidating female students because he believes she has a video that could prove the existence of aliens.
In some major ways, UFO Club feels a lot like one of those late 90's teen comedies where you never quite knew what you were getting yourself into when you plopped yourself down in the movie theatre and prepared for a couple hours of quirky chuckles.
The quirkiness is most certainly strong here. There's barely a normal human being to be found here and Tsapelas begins laying on the humor right away and never lets up in the relatively short 74-minute feature.
UFO Club is set for its world premiere on July 13th as the Opening Night Feature at the Long Island International Film Festival. While my own rating here isn't particularly strong, I can easily see the film having an extended run on the indie/microcinema film circuit with its generally good nature, abundance of quirks, and because, let's be honest, we all love UFO films whether they're good, bad, or somewhere in between.
As Alex, Eloise Gordon is easily the film's highlight. Gordon lights up the screen once she arrives and maintains the film's spark throughout. As is nearly always true for these types of indie projects, the ensemble is hit-and-miss though for the most part this relatively quiet comedy gets the job done.
Lensing by Kenneth R. Frank is strong thoughout UFO Club and Vadia Potenza's editing work here is effective.
UFO Club is much like a good number of those teen comedies of years past - quiet little comedies good for a couple hours of escapism but also most likely to leave the brain not long after exciting the theatre. As someone who spends far too much time watching late night Prime Video offerings, I'll be the first one to admit that I value these films even if I can't always serve up stellar ratings and reviews. While the acting may be hit-and-miss here, nearly everyone here is likable and giving it their best shot and you can't help but appreciate.
Flawed but still fun to watch, UFO Club should prove entertaining to its Long Island audiences and it'll be fun to watch the film as it kicks off its festival journey.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic