Alien Invasion: Hudson Valley, the latest installment of discovery+’s Shock Docs franchise, opens with the disclaimer: “Now that the U.S. government can no longer deny the existence of UFOs, eyewitnesses feel emboldened to share their stories.” The residents of Pine Bush, in the heart of Hudson Valley, New York, can no longer take the undeniable. They are fed up with it. Aliens are a nuisance, let’s face it, especially when you’ve got “an alien highway” in your basement.
Area 51 has an excuse for its reputation, being government controlled and heavily secure. The Hudson Valley wants to be Roswell East. Just north of New York City, they’ve logged more UFO complaints than any other area in the world, bugging MUFON, the world’s largest civilian UFO investigative organization, with 3,000 extraterrestrial encounter reports in the past 10 years alone. But the reports go back over 100 years, the two-hour special documentary points out. Ever since ghostly dirigibles were reported over the area in 1909.
Marc D’Antonio, the chief photo researcher for MUFON, was born, raised and lives in the Hudson Valley. His easy local access isn’t the reason the area’s complaints take up most of the log. Alien Invasion: Hudson Valley goes on to show how easy it is to call extradimensional activity. But it probably is the reason the area gets special treatment. D’Antonio calls in extraterrestrial/paranormal expert Ben Hansen, and investigative journalist Melissa Tittl, who is also the Head of Content and Development for the GAIA Network. According to its website, GAIA is the “’Netflix’ of consciousness with thousands of acquired titles and original content that pushes the boundaries on our current reality.”
The team is innovative, pushing investigative confines by combining paranormal equipment along with the usual methods of probing extraterrestrials. The team starts by taking in first-hand accounts, after an amusing impromptu town hall meeting with locals who don’t want to be seen as crazy. Most, and this goes on throughout the special, of the witnesses identify themselves as “science guys.” But if you say you’re a science guy, you are probably not.
The women in town don’t make any such disclaimers. They admit straight out they don’t know what they’re dealing with, and want to get to the bottom of what’s going on. One says she can’t take it anymore, as she walks the investigation team back and back, further into the woods behind her house. By this point, the team has already had paranormal contact which goes beyond alien invasions and into hauntings, poltergeist activity, and possibly other etheric wonders and urban legends. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for Alien Invasion: Hudson Valley to add a murder mystery to the growing list of supernatural happenings.
The special throws quite a bit of subliminal imagery into the visuals to associate the “undisputed UFO capital of the world” with other paranormal activity. Amidst the quick-cuts of the setting changes, mixed in with drawings of “greys” and photographs of apparent alien craft, we can see shots of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, angels, demons, and mothmen. All of which have nothing to do with the case. The documentary special wants too much. Luckily, they get it in a one-stop-shopping spree.
They speak with a lady in town, whose house was a general store in the 1800s. She was born in that house and her family has owned it for generations. She and her daughter see things like entities which shouldn’t fit into the spaces they occupy. Their hair gets pulled by unseen hands. The mother keeps an emergency bed in the living room in case she gets nocturnal visitors hulking over her as she sleeps. In the basement, where her husband used to tinker, things get even hairier. She tells a story about her husband hearing a voice, which sounded like an airport announcement, saying something about a portal, and hearing the words “chosen by the forty” and “back in the hole we go.” The team believes the mother is a conduit or magnet for the phenomenon. I think she’s the alien. Though, maybe she’s an actor.
The investigative team is a little too amenable to their hosts’ precautions. When they go down to the basement, it is the daughter who feels a poke and tells the investigators not to stand in “that spot” where she felt it. It is interesting that another member of the team feels something on the back of his neck moments later, but that could be the power of suggestion. The investigators proved their susceptibility when they agreed not to stand in the poking area instead of leaving the basement altogether. Get poked, for Chrissake.
Ben Hansen has got to stop opening every aside with “I’ve been on a million missions and this is the first time I’ve.” For a former FBI profiler, he seems a little naïve, and tends to lead evidence rather than follow it. The alien craft he catches on his cell phone has an odd flight pattern no man-made craft can maneuver. This sentiment can be heard in many comments over the years, especially on UFO investigation programming. To me it looks like a moth or a bee flying through the beams of a flashlight, but what do I know?
The sonic technological search to match an aural memory of one of the witnesses seems both rushed and, in legal terms, a case of “leading the witness.” But it yields returns, and putting it through an oscillator gets such solid results, it’s like an invitation to try this at home. “If you know what you’re doing with tones and frequency, you always draw something in,” D’Antonio concludes. “The tones unlock the door to what might be called a portal, but there’s no telling who or what are responding to these tones.” It feels like what they are really trying to recreate is a non-melodic version of the Close Encounters alien summit call.
Viewers can look forward to some actual contact in the special documentary, along with some very real, visceral thrills. More than once, you will hear yourself say “just look over your shoulder,” or “if that guy would only turn around” while watching. There is one sequence which looks like it was written during the early days of cellphones, with people not being able to identify an entity they could probably plainly see if they stopped looking into their handheld monitors. Didn’t anyone think to bring an overhead light?
There is gold, silver, and probably dilithium crystals galore to be found on any passing asteroid, so if the extraterrestrials have been plucking Hudson Valley residents out of their homes for over 100 years, what do they want? Blood, we are assured. One of the interviewees brings up the possibility that the people are being tested for the DNA, “the only unique resource on the planet.” Of course, the aliens want our blood. Roger Corman told us that in his 1957 indie sci fi classic Not of This Earth.
The man with blue phlegm has a purpose. He believes he and the other people who are contacted are on a mission. He thinks the implants the aliens stick into various bodily orifices, inconvenient as they may be, are a way to keep an eye on very special earthlings. Or is that merely earth-dwellers? One of the abductees says his name, which can be traced “all the way back to the Romans,” translates to holy line, which Hansen augments to mean “Holy Blood Line.” Another abductee also suggests the residents are being tagged because of some ancient plasmic pedigree.
The producers miss huge potential suspense by not following this up further. The investigators spend a lot of time guessing what the aliens are looking for in their after-hours medical exams but never question the exalted sanguine mission of the people with the shared extraterrestrial trauma.
Rather than recap Lifeforce, the idea of a special and ancient genetic makeup for the Hudson Valley residents is explored scientifically. The program states that Rh negative blood is extremely rare, so rare it might not be indigenous to the plant. But if it is alien, is fifteen percent of the earth’s population alien? And why did they all move to the Hudson Valley?
Completely inadvertently, Alien Invasion: Hudson Valley gives off an impression that the fine, damaged, folks in Pine Bush who are coming forward as some kind of conspiracy. This isn’t a large paranoid cabal of intrigue with the scope of QAnon, a faked Moon landing, or governmental collusion with an invading force. The plot appears to be more about a tourist trap, and the abductions and soft landings are travel brochures. It works. Pine Bluffs is about an hour from here. The lure of portal traffic is overwhelming.
Shock Doc: Alien Invasion: Hudson Valley launches Monday, August 15 on discovery+