Mike Gray, 1983, USA
A minor close encounter: a couple – Robert Carradine and Cherie Currie - go investigate weirdness on the nearby hill when she starts to telepathically hear cries; they stumble into a secret subterranean complex where the military are dissecting what they think are alien corpses.
The couple get imbrued in conspiracy scenarios and when the military attempt to cover it all up, the aliens get free. The telepathic angle means Currie can explain the aliens where things need a little clarification – hey, they’re just stranded tourists which means not only being captured and incarcerated but a trip to a church for a little religious undertone and then the desert. The aliens resemble naked bald children so immediately they are going to tap into the sympathetic/creepy kid vibe. Speilberg’s ‘E.T: the extra-terrestrial’ was meant to be cutesier. They see Jesus on the cross and consequently happily go back on their initial rejection of clothing: what is this, an introduction of Shame and a covering up of Innocence? But anyway, it’s then a little more in the adventure mode of ‘Escape from Witch Mountain’ but it’s tone is consistently eerie enough to align it with far headier affairs such as, say, ‘Phase IV’, helped greatly by a score by Tangerine Dream. Although it’s unremarkable in many ways, the acting is solid and things clip along at a fair pace, but it’s most notable achievement is its accent on the situation and how it veers away from having clearly labelled villains: the military men may be cruel but they do so under the guise of just-doing-my-job rather than overacting malevolence. They often seem desperate and baffled in their orders and the brutal consequences of their reactions an offhand feature of what they do rather than denoting obvious sadism: arguably this banality of evil is far more chilling.
And all of this and claims it’s based on a True Story too, but this does not lead the film: indeed, this was surely already a well-trodden cover-up conspiracy theory in 1983. As an example of earnest Eighties b-movie fare, 'Wavelength' is enjoyable with budgetary restrictions beneficially making the focus on the drama.