Once dismissed as cheap schlock for drive-ins and kiddie matinees, movies about space aliens have long since ascended into the budgetary stratosphere while reveling in VFX scares and wonders.

Yoshiki Matsumoto’s debut feature “Alien’s Daydream” — which won two prizes at last year’s Skip City International D-Cinema Festival, including best picture — proves it is still possible to deliver fresh, entertaining takes on the genre on a micro budget. And he does it without resorting to genre parody, the common cop-out of Japanese indie sci-fi filmmakers who put everything from clunky action to bad acting in air quotes.

This is not to say the film is humorless: Scripted, directed and edited by Matsumoto, it views the more ridiculous aspects of its story, from a cheesy UFO museum to its green alien mascot, with tongue firmly in cheek. But it is also an ambitious, multilayered essay on the UFO phenomenon, with a story that is mind-bendingly ambiguous and filmed in a style that is wildly imaginative. Meanwhile, the film exposes the corruption of tabloid media, for which UFO sightings and alien abductions are convenient fictions to boost sales.