Area 51 is written and directed by Oren Peli, the visionary horror director who scared the hell out of people with his directorial debut, Paranormal Activity. Like his most iconic piece of work, the film is shot in the style of found footage, set in the mysterious and conspiracy inducing facility.
While the film plays up speculation about the area to hook into an eerie narrative, what about the real Area 51? It's one of the world's worst kept secrets, but aside from conspiracies on what lies within, what do we really know?
A Long Term Mystery
The United States Air Force facility was dubbed "Area 51" by conspiracy theorists who have attempted to pierce through the cloak of mystery that surrounds the compound. The fact it was long denied by American government also added fuel to the fire.
Although often linked with UFOs and other top secret goings on, a more rational explanation for the center (although never fully revealed) is that it is a testing ground for aircraft and weapons, not for hoarding a bunch of misplaced aliens.
A Normal Research Area?
In a 2015 interview with The Telegraph, NASA Administrator Major Charles Bolden confirmed there was an Area 51, with his explanation a lot less exciting than the conspiracies that have surrounded it, saying:
“There is an Area 51. It’s not what many people think. I’ve been to a place called that but it’s a normal research and development place. I never saw any aliens or alien spacecraft or anything when I was there.
"I think because of the secrecy of the aeronautics research that goes on there it’s ripe for people to talk about aliens being there.”
The enigmatic stretch of land was only officially confirmed in 2013 by the CIA, in documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents also exposed some of the historical activity behind the center.
Overall, it's unlikely Area 51 harbors anything as remotely interesting as depicted in Peli's movie. But, one thing's for sure — it's highly unlikely anyone in real life would be able to gain entry like the characters did in the film, so will we ever really know an answer?
Area 51 is available to stream on VOD services.