They're Here

For some reason, New York is a hotbed of UFO sightings. The state is fifth in the nation when it comes to them. They’re Here, which had its world premiere in the Viewpoints section of the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival, takes a look at this phenomenon through the eyes of true believers. The movie’s most admirable quality is that it refuses to condescend to its subjects, treating them with seriousness and compassion.

Directors Daniel Claridge and Pacho Velez introduce us to multiple UFO-obsessed New Yorkers. There’s Cookie, who claims to be abducted by aliens on an annual basis; Steve, a guy who thinks he had an experience yet can’t quite recall the details; Dave, who filmed a UFO on his cell phone while tripping on mushrooms; and Twon, an astonishingly unfunny stand-up comedian who doesn’t understand why audiences aren’t into his spaceship jokes. Over the course of the documentary, Steve undergoes hypnosis in hopes of remembering his potential abduction, while Dave has his video scrutinized by an expert in debunking sightings.

These people are almost like characters in a Christopher Guest mockumentary. They are uniformly quirky, and they share a desperation to have their experiences validated. Although no one here fits into the “tin foil hat” stereotype, there is an awareness that society at large views them with skepticism. They’re Here gives these eclectic folks their due, respecting their viewpoints without challenge or ridicule. When Dave gets unwanted news about his video, you can’t help feeling bad because we’ve come to realize what the possibility of having captured a UFO means to him.

The documentary falters a bit toward the end with staged abduction scenes that add nothing, and it’s pretty clear that Twon is playing to the cameras with his weirdo schtick. I’m also not sure the filmmakers know exactly what story they’re telling because the low-key narrative doesn’t build to anything. The movie just sort of ends. Nevertheless, the subjects are fascinating enough to hold our attention for the brisk 75-minute running time.

They’re Here gets at the humanity inside people often dismissed as kooks. That alone makes it noteworthy.

They're Here

They're Here is unrated, but contains some adult language. The running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes.

© 2024 Mike McGranaghan