The KAOS Brief (2016)

The KAOS Brief first published by SciFiNow

In writer/director JP Marandino’s The KAOS Brief, vain 17-year-old Skylar (Drew Lipson) films his life for his vlog Skylar TV – so a camping trip with his twin sister Dakota (Charlie Morgan Patton) and their respective boyfriends Corey (Marco DelVecchio) and Tren (Akanimo Eyo) seems the perfect opportunity to shoot some outdoor footage and try out his new drone camera. Yet when this foursome sees (and records) strange lights in the sky, and signs that their campsite has been visited overnight, Skylar posts the evidence on his site, drawing the attention of shadowy government agencies, hackers and extra-terrestrials.

Where most found-footage films begin with text stating the circumstances of the film’s discovery, The KAOS Brief opens with an Anonymous-style masked KAOS activist broadcasting about his unearthing of Skylar’s lost videos from the Snowden files. In other words, while Marandino’s film is far from the first alien-focused found footage (cf. Area 51, Skinwalker Ranch, Cloverfield, Europa Report, Hangar 10, Earth to Echo, The Hunt, Unaware, Apollo 18, Alien Abduction, even V/H/S 2), it updates the format to generation youtube and hacktivism. And while The KAOS Brief, with its first act set on the woodland fringes of civilisation, initially appears to conform to the Blair Witch rulebook of first-person horror, it quickly returns its adolescent leads to their affluent suburban home whose comfortable fittings and wired-up technology prove no defence against invasions both human and alien.

The kids also do their own finding of footage, in the form of an old VHS, hidden by their parents, which reveals a forgotten chapter of their family history. How exactly all these close encounters, men in black, mysterious online parties, foreign implants and aerial abductions fit together is never fully clear – but those elements are all just SF clichés anyway, while the real story here is young people, on the cusp of adulthood, facing a future that feels beyond their control.

Summary: Four teens’ uploaded videos attract attention from secret agencies, hacktivists and aliens.

© Anton Bitel