Strange Septembers: The Hill Abduction and the Exeter Incident Movie Review
Written by Greg Fisher
Directed by Jeff and Jess Finn
2016, 92 minutes, Not Rated
Stanton Friedman as himself
Judd Fulleras as himself
James Earl Jones as himself
Ted Loder as himself
Kathleen Marden as herself
Dean Merchant as himself
John P. Oswald as himself
Estelle Parsons as herself
William Ross as himself
Peter Weller as the Narrator
Strange Septembers: The Hill Abduction & the Exeter Encounter fails to do much more than to expound upon the title. The specifics of the Barney and Betty Hill abductions and the Exeter Incident are given as if this is undoubtedly fact, so no actual evidence is ever given other than hearsay and some first hand accounts. The interviewees know for a fact that aliens exist, and the directors take their word as gospel and demand that the viewers use faith as fact.
We are told through several first hand accounts of the Exeter encounter that on September 3, 1965, a large craft with bright red lights was spotted by several people near Exeter, New Hampshire. The Air Force claimed that B52 bombers had been in the area, and those that witnessed it outright denied this, claiming it could have only been extraterrestrials.
The Betty and Barney Hill abduction is perhaps more famous. The Hills claimed that they were abducted by aliens on September 19, 1961. Those aliens ran tests on the couple, including what the Hills called "fertility tests.” They experienced lost time, but when they returned Betty Hill, under hypnosis, was able to recall the aliens showing her a star map. This map led them to believe that the aliens were from a system called Zeta Reticuli.
This above information is repeated ad nauseam by those interviewed for the documentary. Only one dissenting opinion is given the entire picture, and even that is presented as more of an "Aw shucks, I hate to say it, but I possibly might not agree with everyone. Maybe. If that's cool with everyone else". These interviews are only a part of the problem with the film. Each person pontificates with absolute conviction that these were undoubtedly extraterrestrial encounters, yet very little proof is ever given. In fact, during one of the interviews with Ted Loder, he states, "There is significant evidence of E.T. bases on the moon," yet he never shares even a hint of that evidence. Mostly, each and every appearance seems more self serving, where those in the film get to be unaccredited experts and be in a real movie. Each interview is as bland as the last, including those by James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons, who played Barney and Betty Hill in the movie The UFO Incident. They start off mostly laughing about having done the movie, and giving their underwhelming backing to the UFO cause. Later in the film, Parsons seems to have mentally checked out, simply drinking water and gazing around the room while Jones gets more excitable and preaches his beliefs that there are aliens, as if he somehow saw the light somewhere during filming. Even more egregious is the lady sitting with Stanton Friedman during his interviews. She rarely speaks, but is always sure to be holding a copy of his book so that it is best seen on camera.
Perhaps all of this could be overlooked when edited. We'll never know, because the production in this movie is more baffling than anything else. Extreme and puzzling angles are used during several of the interviews, such as one shot where the cameraman was most likely laying on the floor and shooting upwards to film a segment. Everything is undercut with an ominous, pulsing soundtrack that could only become more laughable if the directors had hired a zither player to really bring out the spookiness of the tale. File recordings of interviews are played overtop of a needlessly sepia toned panning shot of an old reel to reel recorder. At one point, the filmmakers attempt to slowly pan out on a tight shot of a man speaking in a field near Exeter. They fail miserably as the button apparently stuck, and we are left with a stuttering, start and stop zoom. Added to all of this are cringe-worthy, poorly animated recreations of aliens and UFOs, and almost any credibility the movie could have garnered flies out of the window.
The most damning thing I found was a very quick mention by Stanton Friedman that the torn dress that Betty Hill was wearing during the supposed abduction had been sent in for testing. Instead of dropping a bomb with whatever evidence was found, Stanton's partner insists to instead tell the story of how Betty Hill threw away the scuffed shoes Barney had been wearing that night.
Even when the filmmakers possibly had some concrete, scientific evidence, they chose to ignore it for more hearsay and conjecture. Hopefully more people can be like them, and ignore this subpar documentary.