This is much worse than just a bad film: it is actively evil. It starts out with a highly emotive and disturbing premise: Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore) is told that her son, whom she believed died in a bus accident, never actually existed. It gets you to empathize with this character, and gets you intrigued by the potential for a conspiracy and cover-up story. Unfortunately, it all turns out to be a simplistic Twilight Zone re-hash. I don’t know exactly how often the “it’s all an alien experiment” plot card has been played in bad science fiction books and films, but I reckon that “WAY TOO” is close enough.
But that’s not the worst of it. The worst part is the ugly and jarring happy ending that betrays all the compassion you have invested in the main character (which might be substantial–the hooks at the start of the film are effective, and they go right for the heart).
After her confrontation with the alien, Telly is broken. She has uncovered the secret, and the secret is that the aliens are uncaring creatures who consider us nothing more than bugs for their little experiments. They are even ruthless enough to kill one of their own scientists when he fails to provide results quickly enough. She has lost her son, her husband, her former life, and by catching a glimpse of the puppet master behind the curtain she has learned how insignificant the whole human race is. Major bummer. You know what we really need now? A happy ending! How about, the aliens wipe the slate clean with an omnipotent “let’s make it like it never happened” sponge, and everything will be just peachy! Telly gets her son back, other characters who died are restored to life, and everyone smiles.
Er, no. That’s just fucking stupid. The film is about loss, despair, and coming to terms with failure in the face of overwhelming odds. Closing with a three-minute family reunion sequence is more than just lazy filmmaking–it’s offensive.
Films don’t usually leave me feeling angry. This one did.