I'm giving a higher mark to this film because there are several things that make this an above-par effort. The story will definitely hold your interest, the cast is mature and the acting is with enough conviction, and it gives a nice B-movie feel without resorting to bad CGI effects for a creature.
It has the classic cliche elements for a perfect B flick: a mysterious misunderstood child, a town with a secret, and an alien. While not a direct remake of The Day The World Ended, it utilizes the original film by showing segments on a TV in the story and showing the vhs video box cover as part of the child's interest in aliens. High production values combined with B movie flair work just enough to be passable entertainment for some, but if you enjoy the *wink-wink* of its intended fun, it comes out a winner. It has the look and feel of a good X-Files episode with more psychological horror elements of the newer Outer Limits. That's not bad at all, considering.
Younger audiences may not give this a chance as the cast (except for the child) is well over 40, but I welcomed that element gladly, as the older classic sci-fi/horror films used a mature cast as well. They cast who would work well with the story, not who was young and hot at the moment. By casting the way they did, this film will hold up better in years to come than by choosing a teen-looking cast that will obviously date it when those stars have faded from the spotlight. Randy Quaid and Nastassia Kinski both give convincing performances, and Stephen Toblowsky adds just enough humour to his role as the principal.
The creature itself is hit-or-miss: in some scenes it looks fine,
in others it doesn't. But the fact that that it was actually part person/puppet/mechanics helps a lot even if it's not entirely convincing, as these days too many films just use computer animation which becomes distracting like watching cheap animation mixed in with live action.
Yes, this is a B movie. But it's a fun one, just like the old classics but with a bit more cussing and violence. Don't let the R-rating keep you back on that part, as it's not gratuitous and in just the right doses. As for the MPAA's warning of a "sex scene"....it's so brief, rather awkward, and basically humorous that it's not even worth fretting over. Otherwise, those looking for sex and breasts better look elsewhere, this film concentrates on the story and its stronger pyschological horror.
Those who are collectors of (particularly ones that are homages to) old B films will be quite satisfied and not worry that the DVD has just the basics to offer, plus some inside views from Stan Winston and Shane Mahan on a commentary. Others just looking to pass the time might not find the price worth it. I personally think this will be one that years from now will still entertain. It's good enough, smart enough, and doggone it -- just creepy enough that people will like it. I know I've enjoyed this one a heck of a lot more than most recent theatrical yawners, so give this one a try with a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy!