Friday, January 02, 2009

Alien Raiders

Title: Alien Raiders (2008)
Dir: Ben Rock
Rating: ** out of 5 stars

Alien Raiders is an attempted throwback to 80's creature features like The Thing. Its intentions are noble, and the film starts off pretty good but it ultimately goes downhill.

The story begins when a group of gunmen take siege of a supermarket in a small Arizona town. Upon bursting in, they shoot certain people, and detain the rest. They soon gather up the hostages and begin running tests on them. We then find out that these gunmen are not robbers but militant scientists who have traced an alien outbreak to this grocery store. As the terrified, confused hostages plot their escape, their captors try to smoke out the "king" alien before it's too late.

I was enjoying the movie at first, even though the "tests" sequence felt like a shabby ripoff of The Thing's classic blood test scene. Needless to say, this movie does not even come close to the terror and sheer badassery of its predecessor. But let's be honest, that's a high bar to reach. Raiders delivered some good suspense toward the start, and the general plot is kinda cool.

Then, the movie gets dragged down by slow parts. There are a lot of scenes with the town's sheriff, who fears for his step-daughter inside the store. There is a lot of squabbling amongst the gunmen and amongst the hostages. Both get old fast. None of the characters are especially likable.

At long last, the movie gets down to some good ol' horror FX. This was the aspect of this film that I was most excited about. And it let me down. For one thing, there is only one actual makeup job - the main alien-monster that occupies the film's third act. It's a good makeup job, but here is the other catch - we can barely see it! Those scenes are so darkly lit that this beautiful FX job is barely visible at all! What a shame. The production stills looked incredible.

The last twenty minutes of the film are especially lame, when the 'bad' guys and hostages must work together to fight the alien. Yes, singular alien. *yawn* There is a whole lot of BS in these last scenes, especially when the town's police force gets involved. And finally, the film unveils its epic twist ending. I saw it coming about half-way into the film. *sigh*

I wanted to love this movie, I really did. Oh well.