Sci-fi fans have a full platter of movies on offer this summer that will suit their tastes; from the Wachowski’s space royalty movie Jupiter Ascending to the return of familiar non-human characters in Transformers: Age of Extinction, and a vision of a hairier future for Earth in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. On the lower end of the budget scale, however, is newcomer Dave Green’s found footage alien visitation movie, Earth to Echo.

Echo himself (herself?) appears to be a tiny robotic alien owl with extraordinary powers that unfortunately don’t include the power to return home. After being assured that human flesh is not on Echo’s menu of choice, the group of young friends band together to protect Echo from the authorities – and find a way for the alien to get off Earth and back to its home.

The premise is strongly reminiscent of E.T. and other classic adventure movies like Explorers and The Goonies. In some ways, Earth to Echo looks like J.J. Abrams’ ’80s homage Super 8 – only with a cuter alien, a more family-friendly ton,  and not quite as many lens flares. (Sorry, a lens flare reference is required by law, when discussing Abrams sci-fi.)

The screenplay for Earth to Echo was penned by another newcomer, Henry Gayden, who told the Huffington Post that the biggest inspiration for the movie wasn’t E.T. or Explorers but Stand By Me: “We didn’t want to make a movie that’s about an alien. We wanted to make a movie that featured an alien, but was about the kids. ” The kids in question are played by a group of four mostly unknown young actors: Teo Halm, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt and The X Factor contestant Astro.

Some moviegoers might be getting sick of the found footage format, but for those who can still stomach it, Earth to Echo looks like a fun way to revive some of the classic ’80s sci-fi adventure spirit this summer.

Earth to Echo is out in theaters on July 2nd, 2014.