*** Alien invasions are often fraught with drama, but co-writer-directors Eleanor Wilson and Alex Huston Fischer's debut can make even the most ruthless kill seem…cute? Though their script overloads on violence, there's still a warm tone that drives this science fiction-comedy hybrid. When Su (Sunita Mani of Glow) and Jack (John Reynolds of Search Party) realize they are spending more time on their phones than with each other, the Brooklyn couple make a pact to go upstate and turn off their electronics. What a week to unplug: Aliens take over the world, but they don't get the news. They are too busy learning how to fish, hike and chop wood to notice the invasion. The extraterrestrials, overseen by visual effects supervisor Jeff Desom, are a marvel of dexterity, with 10-foot tongues that shoot out of their round, furry bodies. The "poofballs" are a perfect metaphor for the seemingly innocent, cutesy-themed social media sites that suck us dry (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). After all, this is a film about a couple disconnecting to reconnect. When Su and Jack unplug, they are no longer alienated from each other. R. ASHER LUBERTO. On Demand.
** Opening on the heaving sobs of a lovely young fiancée just informed of her groom's disappearance, Eternal Beauty's first scene tells us all we need to know about our abandoned bride-never-to-be. Summarily dismissed by her older sister Alice (a dead-eyed Alice Lowe), co-opted by younger sister Nicola (Billie Piper as an aging sexpot), and blamed by her vicious mother (Penelope Wilton), the film's tragic heroine collapses in absolute despair. Somehow that may have been her high point. Flashing forward a few decades to an IG-filtered swath of Britain's dreariest suburb, we learn that unrelenting familial abuse and ruinous psychiatric treatments have rendered the former beauty queen (played by Sally Hawkins) an unrecognizable electroshock casualty shuffling through uninterested doctors. Even as the pace slows and the depths of Jane's disorder become clearer, there's still a nervy thrill to rooting along such ill-fated plans, which include abducting her drowsy young nephew or shacking up with David Thewlis' curdled punk. But following the inevitable split of that engagement, Eternal Beauty loses the plot during an interminable succession of cruelties, detailing what Jane has suffered without the slightest care for why. Preserve the mystery or examine the motives, but showing the same mistakes made over and over again and expecting emotional resonance feels like the definition of inanity. R. JAY HORTON. On Demand.