Film (1997). Promark Entertainment Group and Spectacor Films. Directed by Timothy Bond. Written by Eric Miller, Justin Stanley. Cast includes Sherilyn Fenn, Eric Roberts and Dean Stockwell. 91 minutes. Colour.
A drab, low-budget dramatization of the Men in Black (see UFOs) mythology, The Shadow Men plays like a mediocre X-Files (1993-2002) episode expanded to feature length. An American family is abducted by a UFO while hiking in the mountains, and is subsequently threatened by mysterious Men in Black. Realizing that the abduction was accidentally caught on video tape, the family flee the now murderous MIB for the safety of a conspiracy theorist's fortified house. Seeking the tape, the MIB assault the house and a ludicrous battle follows.
In contrast to the glossy comedy Men in Black (1997) that came out the same year, The Shadow Men is a relatively serious depiction of the legendary conspirators. Despite their sombre and threatening air, the Shadow Men of the film can't help but seem absurd as they march around the streets in broad daylight in the traditional hats and dark glasses, an iconography that is becoming as unchanging as that of the characters in a Japanese Noh play. The Shadow Men assumes an audience familiarity with UFO traditions, and makes no attempt to explain the motives or purpose of the aliens or the alien-human hybrids that make up the MIB. Suspension of disbelief is further strained by the tape of "evidence" that is so amateurish so as to be an utterly unconvincing threat to the presumed alien conspiracy. [JN]
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