FEBRUARY 2, 2009
The Blair Witch guys are the masters of creating universes in which the feature film only has some of the information you need to fully understand the story. They did it with Witch (and beautifully so, IMO), with the website, Sci-Fi special, and a couple of books helping flesh out the story and even add weight to some of the scare scenes. They tried it again with Believers, though there it wasn’t AS successful since the finished film wasn’t as compelling as the bonus features. And now we have Alien Raiders (directed by Ben Rock, produced by Dan Myrick), which falls somewhere in between those two.
The movie is about a group of badasses who hold the occupants of a supermarket hostage as they seek for an alien lifeform that has taken over the body of a human; sort of The Thing crossed with The Mist (indeed, the cover of the DVD suggests that the film is nothing but an Asylum knockoff of Darabont’s film). It unfolds almost in realtime as the badasses (led by legendary badass Tony Almeida himself, Carlos Bernard) lose the one guy who can “spot” an alien inside someone, which means they have to improvise in order to find out who’s human. It’s not as unpredictable as Rock and his screenwriters would like you to believe, but it’s still an exciting and fairly original take on the “pod” genre.
But what’s cool is that the movie is never weighed down by explanations and backstory. You know that it’s some sort of alien - do you need to know the hows and whys? Likewise the team itself - do they work for someone or have they just taken it upon themselves to be mankind’s protector? Again - does it really matter? The movie’s about how badly things turn out for one of their hunts - knowing that stuff wouldn’t affect the end result. There is one thing I wish they explained though: how they knew that the alien they were looking for was in the supermarket at midnight. If they had intel that precise, you’d think they’d know who the alien was right off the bat.
The only other blunder (besides the abysmal opening credits sequence, which has a public access-y font and annoying music/editing) is the final 15 minutes or so. The hostages are either cleared and released, or proven to be aliens and killed (or they escape and provide some scares). It comes down to three hostages, two of whom we know are clear. Since this is a modern horror movie, you know there has to be a big “twist”, so the identity of the alien is pretty obvious for nearly half the movie. I wish they had left another question mark alive for as long as possible, which would have added some much needed suspense to the 3rd act.
Still, considering this is a Raw Feed movie (with the lamest Sci-Fi original-y title I’ve seen in years), it’s a wonder the movie is even watchable, let alone good. It took 6 films, but they have finally delivered something that can be considered a success (without reservations), so kudos to the creative team for that.
Like Believers, the extras are mainly “in character” bits that flesh out some of the story. We get the video diary of the person who is revealed to be the alien, an interview with the “spotter” (the movie’s most interesting concept is that only those who are tweaked out on drugs have the ability to “see” the aliens), and a lab report by the team’s medic (super hot Courtney Ford). The other two are standard making of bits that are too short to be of much use. Raw Feed also provides the trailers for their mostly terrible other movies. Thanks.
What say you?