Twinkle twinkle UFO, come give us a whoop a*s show. And that is precisely what you will get with indie writer-director Matthew Ewald’s A Coffin Of Stars. Liam Bishop (Ewald) is being interrogated over the circumstances of the disappearance of his neighbor Billy Hastings (William Palafox). Liam is a divorced former vet whose daughter Evie (Adelai Love) is going off to stay with her mom again.
Liam found Billy wandering the woods, dazed with a shredded dog leash. Apparently, the dog ran off after something that was neither man nor beast. Liam later finds the dog’s body with the eyes missing. When he goes to inform Billy, the door’s already open. The inside of the house is a crazed wreckage with blood on the floor. Liam is then attacked by a full-blown black-eyed alien (Harlow Lawrence). Because Liam told Detective Weir (Ben Riley) that an alien attacked him, he gets special attention from an unidentified government agency. In the days following his interview, things keep getting stranger, and Liam gets his weapons ready for any attempted abductions, government or alien-wise.
Ewald opens A Coffin Of Stars the way every extraterrestrial abduction movie should: an ugly alien pounds the door down. This is a close encounter of the big swinging nuts kind. This is already exceptional due to the ferocity of the violence. The beasties have the visual menace of incoming bodily harm, which we usually don’t get much with the spindly variety. It also is impressive that no matter how much firepower is brought up (and there is a lot of artillery), it still may not be enough to stop the berserkers from the skies. The script does an excellent job of establishing and increasing the intensity of outer space threats. Ewald writes some great lines, such as “You are in a starlit hell and am one step away from your coffin.”
“…Liam told Detective Weir that an alien attacked him…”
The inclusion of PTSD adds a dimension of seriousness, which offsets any unintended humor. It is notable how much care went into the filler material between the monster bits. There is even a hint of a question as to whether all of this is just a result of PTSD. Luckily, it doesn’t cheat us out, as the monsters are very real.
Ewald is the textbook definition of an indie auteur, as he wrote, produced, shot, edited, and stars in A Coffin Of Stars. The flick is overflowing with great filmmaking. The compositions extensively use the gorgeous forest scenery. The camera angles are highly creative, with lots of variety within each scene. The lighting is fantastic, with delicious candy colors coating even the most mundane scenes. Right on!
Ewald is also a talented enough actor to carry the majority of scenes himself. He brings power and terror to the screen in a highly potent manner. His only blindspot is his role as the editor, which isn’t surprising considering the material’s quality. Many sequences are twice as long as they need to be. The point of the scene is achieved, yet it keeps going. It is just like taking a kid to a build-a-sundae bar. They pile it high with tons of ice cream and toppings, then get sick to their stomach halfway through. If the motion picture had a half-hour sliced off, this already good movie would have streamlined into a magnificent picture.
A Coffin Of Stars replaced E.T.’s pointy Hollywood finger with a big grey indie fist, pounding down the door to get some vicious kicks your way.
"…overflowing with great filmmaking."