A female artist becomes obsessed with something she heard about on the radio, that there is an alien invasion upon us. People are being taken over by something called Hyksos. At the same time she struggles with her personal problems such as her relationships and her art.
I knew I had to check out Valie Export's feature film from Index DVD after I had seen her other three short films released by them. I was deeply impressed by them and couldn't even imagine how a feature by her. Would it be a longer film of the same sort or would it be more a strictly narrative film? There was only one way to find out!
At first I was surprised when I read on the back cover that someone mentioned titles like "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers". I then read the plot outline of an artist who hears about an alien invasion on the radio. I was intrigued, but skeptical. It seems too simple, too normal, too classic horror movie. And I was right. Valie Export doing an alien invasion film isn't the same thing as what you think of when you heard about it. Not at all. If anything, you could almost change the extraterrestrial alien you thought of, with alienation, and you'd be closer to what this is. This is not a horror film, this is a psychological art drama. Our lead, Anna, is an artist who becomes obsessed with the supposed alien invasion she hears about, but in reality she might be the problem, not them.
We follow her days that consist mostly of taking pictures. It sounds boring but Valie Export makes an art of it - we get to be part of the photographes in a highly unusual matter. They help tell her story, and become living parts of the film. At times it's strikingly similar to stuff we saw in the short film collection I reviewed from her, and at other times it's more in the ways of Jan Švankmajer. But the narrative bit remains very low key and... normal. It's a movie that includes so much: relationships, psychology and psychological issues, alienation, art/photography, "alien invasion", sex, experimentation and of course with a big focus on the (female) body. It's hard to categorize these films and that's why it's hard to know if you will like the film or not. Odds are that you'll have different expectations than what it offers after this review, but I can't do anything about that.
At the end of the day I can't say I loved it, but it's a very unique filmmaker behind it and she is probably more interesting to study than the things in her film. But to study her best is to watch her films - this is a good one for that. Every time she experimentals with photography it's highly impressive and, more often than not, beautiful. The rest of the movie has a very bleak realism to it, and is almost ugly in its presentation. If you love art films then this is something you should check it. I wouldn't call it a must (I'd recommend her three shorts on the DVD before I recommend this one) but definitely something you could get a kick out of. Because of the narrative structure there is also something for people who are looking for a drama as well, but it'd be more of a gamble for you.