Films based on aliens can vary wildly in nature and indeed quality. From Steven Spielberg’s E.T. to Ridley Scott’s Alien via Jeff Bridges as Starman; extra-terrestrial flicks run the full gamut from adorable pacifists to beneficent space explorers to malevolent killers.
Which brings us to L’arrivo di Wang, a 2011 psychological sci-fi chiller that has been described as “a devious and sinister modern-day morality tale“. However, the film plays out like an episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits and taking into account these factors, Wang merits inclusion on a horror website such as AndyErupts.
The synopsis is as follows,
“It’s another dull film subtitling job day for Chinese-language interpreter Gaia when she’s suddenly called up out of the blue by the Italian authorities to translate the interrogation of a mysterious captive alien from another world. called Mr Wang. What happens next will change Gaia’s life forever and the entire destiny of planet Earth…”
The synopsis succinctly covers the storyline and provides a broad overview of a film that at times, reminded me of The Day the Earth Stood Still; this, I would suggest, is definitely not a bad thing. The suspicious government agent, the liberal interpreter and Mr Wang himself are the central characters here and despite mainly being set in one room, deliver a compelling story on more than one level.
The underlying message of the film seems to be interpreted in different ways: some see it as a metaphor for the West’s mistrust of the Chinese and their ever expanding global influence; others draw comparisons with European attitudes towards immigrants and prejudices to cultures that are not their own.
The men behind Wang, Italian Mondo directors Antonio and Marco Manetti, (The Manetti Bros), are known in Italian cinema for their love of genre films. They have directed films such as: DeGenerazione, Torino Boys; and Zora vampira (Zora the Vampire). They also directed a number of music videos for famous Italian artists such as: Max Pezzali, Alex Britti, Piotta, Flaminia Maphia; and Federico Zampaglione’s Tiromancino.
For me, the effects utilized for Mr Wang were acceptable but rendered impressive by the fact that to my mind, this character may well be the only “creature” that I have seen that has been granted so much screen-time and is in the shot, in focus and opposite to many cinematic aliens who are only seen in fleeting glimpses or in shadow. Moreover, AndyErupts contributor Tash Williams thought that Wang was “cute” and thus drew inevitable comparisons to ET.
On a critical note, I think the reveal of Mr Wang would be a more powerful scene for the audience, had his true nature not been revealed in much of the promotional material. Gaia’s (Francesca Cuttica) reaction to this revelation could well have been mirrored in the audience but it was an opportunity that was missed. Cuttica’s performance is plausible throughout, from her acceptance of the mysterious job, shock at Mr Wang’s appearance, outrage at Curti’s (Ennio Fantastichini) methods and confusion at what to do in the predicament in which she finds herself.
At 80 minutes long, Wang may seem a little short but given that the majority of proceedings centre on three characters, I would submit to you that this is a comfortable time for matters to unfold and the film did not feel rushed in the slightest.
Regardless of the conclusion that you draw yourself, there is no doubt that Wang is an interesting film that at times, is not entirely different to a stage performance, that is worthy of your attention and certainly more than held its own at Glasgow Frightfest.
Additionally, those of us in attendance at GFF were treated to a 40 second teaser for the Manetti Bros upcoming horror, L’ombra dell’orco, a film that many will now be eager to see following this brief introduction!