Science Fiction, Horror, Drama
This film, "A Coffin Of Stars," from writer/director Matthew Ewald roams between the realms of Sci-Fi, Action, and Horror as it plays throughout its length, giving watchers a collage of ways to absorb its main ideas. At the heart of it all, you've got Liam Bishop, also played by Ewald, who seems like a fairly decent guy who is tossed into the wrong places at the wrong times - and just trying to do the right thing, more or less. He's what you'd call a flawed main character; we see issues with his family early on, and we get other references to his time spent serving his country and the therapy/group sessions he's endured afterward. That being said, we're pulling for him as he relates his story to a plethora of folks that don't seem all that inclined to listen - or that he's got enough credibility to be believed. Even the craziest of the crazy out there deserve the right to be heard, and regardless of what someone has experienced in the past, it doesn't mean they can't be correct about something they're experiencing in the present. As unbelievable as Bishop's tale would be to just about anyone that would hear it, you have to ponder the fact that, if he were telling the truth, we'd all be in some serious shit on this planet! Ain't that at least worth a five hot minutes of your time to listen? Liam doesn't seem the type to waste anyone's time.
I'll be real with ya – low-budget Sci-Fi is pretty much the most challenging genre out there to pull off convincingly, so there's no doubt that Ewald would be in for some major challenges as he made "A Coffin Of Stars." Heck, in my opinion, even the highest-budget Sci-Fi movies still run into a series of obstacles between their viewership and the suspension of disbelief, so I take anything on the lower end of the scale with an appropriate grain of salt. In saying that, I found "A Coffin Of Stars" pretty damn watchable. There is still plenty of room for Ewald to grow and evolve in his craft beyond any budgetary concerns - but for the most part, things are pretty good. We see things like a few "rough" cuts/transitions between scenes; we experience audio that fluctuates, and some parts of the film are a bit dominated by the surrounding ambiance, like when Bishop visits a diner and sits in front of a refrigerated cooler. On the flip side, there are other great moments where the audio plays to the film's advantage in establishing the eeriness, like when Liam's out in the middle of nowhere in the woods, trying to hear what could very well be extraterrestrial life. Ewald also deserves some bonus points for the use of Lead Belly's original song "In The Pines" – anytime you hear that tune in a movie or show, I can promise ya, it adds some kind of dimension and depth to what you see. I also liked the use of different communication techniques throughout "A Coffin Of Stars," like phone calls, radio shows, and what we even have to wonder might be hallucinations - of sorts.
As far as the creature content is concerned, it's a bit of a mix, I suppose. You get some fairly standard alien looks, but you also get a really kickass multiple-eyed monster in this movie. More crucially, when it comes to films like "A Coffin Of Stars" that are constrained by financial aspects, the camera can become your biggest ally, and having the scenes where we see these beings onscreen warped by effects or distorted by a shaky filming style is always the right way to go. Anytime we get to see anything for too long, that's when you threaten our suspension of disbelief, and it's better to avoid that if you can, which I felt like Ewald did quite successfully through the majority of scenes we see with any creatures. The spaceship that we end up seeing, and the use of lights, were spectacular additions I really enjoyed. Acting-wise, I think "A Coffin Of Stars" has its moments here and there that are good and others that still leave Matthew and the cast with space to dive that much further into the characters they portray. Script-wise, I felt like "A Coffin Of Stars" had some great ideas, definitely had cohesion to it all, and both a clever way to start the show & finish it off decisively. I'm probably a bit indifferent in how things tend to shift into a whole bunch of gunfire, but I did like that what begins as something similar to the Sci-Fi movies, you know, ends up morphing its way into a smart revenge story as it plays on through.
By the time the fat lady has finished her song, I feel like "A Coffin Of Stars" is the kind of film that had a ton of obstacles in its way - possibly making it a tough one to bring to life, but Ewald managed to navigate it all really well - considering how much he was involved on every level. I feel that overall, it turned out better than I'd have honestly assumed it would have, given the micro-budget nature. So I'm going to go with three stars out of five – "A Coffin Of Stars" was satisfying, and for how ambitious it was, it worked out quite well.