Monday, May 23, 2011

Horror Film Review

Alien Raiders (2008):  If your imagination is able to stretch like hot taffy, then this can be considered a zombie flick, albeit one of the alien parasite variety.  I knew less than nothing about it going in, which is always good.  It wound up disappointing me, which is bad.

There's really not much to complain about on the surface.  The plot borrows heavily from John Carpenter's The Thing but is also reminiscent of Splinter (another 2008 film).  A group of robbers burst into a supermarket at closing time, lock the doors, do a lot of shouting, and start killing certain people.  At first, I figured they were just some bad guys who stumble upon an existing alien siege in the store.  Nope.  That was a happy surprise.  Turns out they're not robbers but former employees of the Jet Propulsion Laboratories (you know, JPL of the space program) who quit to become bounty hunters of sorts.  Seems that a meteorite which crashed to earth had a stowaway, and the stowaway is not our friend. 

Everyone thinks it's a robbery/hostage situation.  Cops surround the place while the hunters try to determine which "hostage" is carrying the king parasite inside of them.  The king is the only male and they must kill it at all costs.  After the guy who can tell who's infected just by looking them is killed, the hunters must resort to chopping off a hostage's finger (if it grows back, you got yourself a bug in you).  Well, during the testing of a drunk woman, we get a scene straight out of The Thing (you remember, Kurt Russell touches the hot wire to the blood in the petri-dish).  Unfortunately, it wasn't the king, and so there are more infected folks in the store.  As you might imagine, everything goes tits up as they confront the big lump of ugly that they think is the king.  They should have brought bigger guns.

The concept and execution of Alien Raiders is hard to fault.  Setting all of the action in a supermarket provides a nice touch of claustrophobia.  There's decent tension as you try to figure out who's housing a alien parasite in their chest cavity and who's not.  So why did it disappoint me?  I've been trying to figure that out for over a day now.  This is what I've come up with:  I've seen it all before (The Thing and Splinter) and frankly, I was a bit bored.  There's nothing really wrong with this movie.  It's just a whole lot of been there, done that.

The Breakdown

Acting:  The main characters do their jobs well enough.  Some of the bit players are annoying.
Story:  Absolutely nothing new here.  I'd go so far as to say this particular plot line is becoming cliched.
Direction:  I did find a little fault here.  It's not tight enough.  All the running around, all the back and forth between the rooms in the back of the store was exhausting and tried my patience.
Production Values:  Low-budget to be sure, but not so's you'd really notice.  On film, not video, and it does appear to be shot in a real supermarket. 
Gore/FX:  They certainly spent some money on the alien makeup and FX (no CGI, thank God).  But there's not nearly as much blood as I expected.  They don't actually show the pinky fingers getting lopped off, in case you were wondering.
Scares:  I didn't jump, although there are a few places where most normal people would.
The Ending:  It's one of those.  Why they think they need to do the twist thing that by now is so obvious and non-twisty, I'll never know. 
The Verdict:  Should you see Alien Raiders?  I won't discourage you.  It's a passable time-waster.  I will, however, recommend you watch The Thing and Splinter again instead. 

My Rating3 out of 5 stars.

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