John Was Trying To Contact Aliens review: Should you watch the Netflix short documentary?

John Shepherd from John Was Trying to Contact Aliens
John Shepherd from John Was Trying to Contact Aliens. Pic credit: Netflix

Most of us search for meaning in this universe or a calling in life. And sometimes we as humans can spend our existence trying to find it. The short documentary John Was Trying To Contact Aliens shows how sometimes the purpose we were meant to serve is right in front of us.

The new short film takes a brief look at a slice of life involving one man’s lifelong search to make contact with aliens. His attempts are endearing and speak to the nature of humanity, and the world around us.

But should you watch the 16 minute documentary on Netflix? Is this one of the best Netflix documentaries? Here is our John Was Trying To Contact Aliens review and whether it’s worth a stream.

John Was Trying To Contact Aliens review: Should you watch the Netflix short documentary?

The documentary short centers on a Michigan man named John Shepherd. As the title says, John himself spent almost half his life trying to contact aliens. And for 30 years, this became his passion in the rural area of Michigan.

Unlike films like Contact, where Jodie Foster transmitted a signal in hopes of hearing life on other planets, John made himself into a space DJ of sorts.

He played all kinds of obscure music in various genres, such as Electric, Jazz, and Afrobeat, all in an intriguing effort to discover if other life forms exist.

It also shows how he did so for years as he taught himself how to broadcast into the black void that is space.

Throughout the story, director Matthew Killip puts us into John’s musical mindset, using synths and beats as background music. He gives us the real space wave atmosphere the documentary needed.

Honestly, hearing some of John’s musical picks he threw into the galaxy makes one wish he had a Spotify playlist to offer.

The documentary also conveys John’s sense of feeling like an outsider. Unfortunately, he was someone who did not feel any sense of belonging in the world he grew up in.

Old photo of John Shepherd from John Was Trying To Contact Aliens.
Old photo of John Shepherd from John Was Trying To Contact Aliens. Pic credit: Netflix

He had to be raised by his grandparents, and what made this more difficult for him was the fact he was a gay man growing up in a rural part of Michigan. Anyone can understand the LBGQT community struggles in small-town America.

This area is one of the strongest of the documentary depicting how John sought acceptance beyond humanity. Anyone who feels like a minority in 2020 sympathizes fully with the desire to escape, wanting to find a place to belong.

Even as a film pundit, this is relatable. Most of us in the film/tv commentator community are flying into worlds that do not exist. Our profession is one that is ultimately seeking an escape.

And in the middle of a pandemic, seeing his point of view of reaching beyond the stars for a sense of friendship and belonging, which he can’t find while stuck in a small town, is identifiable.

It’s a beautiful notion considering how infinite the sky truly is and how small we are, compared to the atmosphere beyond this planet. Looking for somewhere to fit in because of feeling different has never been quite so understood considering the world as it is now.

John Shepherd and his music collection.
John Shepherd and his music collection. Pic credit: Netflix

The fascinating aspect about John Was Trying To Contact Aliens is how it unfolds in its final stretch. Without going into spoiler territory, the documentary lands in a place of a personal nature.

The documentary starts with a macroscopic point of view and ends on an endearing note of personal growth that is microscopic in nature.

It’s easy to look beyond to find acceptance or meaning. But sometimes, the universe can provide everything needed for communal success if we look in front of us.

John Shepherd was a man trying to find his role in the universe as a person of LGTBQ. With a story of seeking extraterrestrials and giving them music to jam to as they kidnapped farmers in rural areas, his life seems to have landed in a sentimental place.

That said, the ending might not be what viewers expect. Going in, prepare for a sweet story about a lonely Michigan man who made himself an intergalactic DJ.

Do not expect an episode of Unsolved Mysteries about UFOs or kidnappings. It’s a grounded persona tale, and it’s done well for being 16 minutes long.

Accomplishing a compelling documentary in a brief runtime isn’t easy, and it’s done quite well with so little space.


Overall Thoughts

John Was Trying To Contact Aliens is a nice short slice of life documentary. It’s about a topic most of us will find relatable, and that involves finding acceptance in our corner of this massive universe.

Do not expect anything that dives too deep into the supernatural involving aliens. This is just a touching story about a man who looked to the stars for more.

Netflix viewers seeking something different to stream will find it in John Was Trying To Contact Aliens and might even see a little of themselves inside John’s story.

John Was Trying To Contact Aliens is now streaming on Netflix.

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