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I basically went into "Alien Raiders" knowing two things: It was for
Raw Feed (The makers of the classics "Rest Stop" and
. "Rest Stop 2:
The Revenge of George Michael") and it had a horrible title. Seriously,
visions of Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies danced through my head, and
not the good kind with Bruce Campbell either. Already I was thinking
about just missing it. Get some rest. Save up my energy for some other
movies. It's day four, after all.
But my friend already had tickets for both of us, so I figured at the very least if it was boring I could just catch a nap.
Well the nap never happened. Alien Raiders rises up above its horrible title and executes a tense and exciting low-budget action/sci-fi tale. Proof of this is the fact that out of all the movies I saw (Zack and Miri, which was great; Feast 2 which was... all right; couple more... can't think straight right now), this is the only one I'm bothering to write a review for. I think it's because since it's a straight-to-DVD movie, it probably won't get it's fair share of publicity. So allow me to put on my publicity gloves (And matching pants).... ahem...
The movie is about a small supermarket in Arizona that, one night while closing up, is over- run by a group of armed terrorists. The men claim that they have to "check" the remaining people, mentioning that "the king" is there and they have to find him/her/it. Now obviously the title ruins any hope for keeping the movie's twist secret SPOILERthere are aliens that are in need of raidingSPOILER, but this movie still does a pretty good job at keeping the viewer engaged and wondering what the hell is going on, without ever confusing them.
The thing I liked the most about the movie was how it ended up being a few different kind of movies in one. It's a mystery when the cops are trying to unravel the reason for the hostage situation, it's an action film (The opening shoot-out is pretty friggin' intense), it's a sci-fi movie (Aliens being raided), and it's even got a dash of monster movie in there for good measure. The atmosphere of the movie is pretty tense throughout. And the pacing was great as well. The movie's just under 90 minutes and no part of it really lags.
Acting-wise, TV fans are gonna' be pretty happy. The main character is played by Carlos Bernard, who we all know and love as Tony "F'ing" Almeda on "24". The character he's playing here isn't that much different from Tony, but it fits the character who, as the movie progresses, goes from being a quiet and almost creepy presence, to being a very sympathetic character. Also good was Rockmond Dunbar (C-Note from the first two seasons of "Prison Break" and one of the hit men in "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang") as the heavy of the group... The guy who is all business and no non-sense... You know the asshole. He could have easily been a one-note character, but is given a few instances to add a little flavor to his performances that help flesh the character out a little. There's another character that I don't really want to give anything away, but he dies pretty early on and that kind of bummed me out. I would have liked to seen more of him. The rest of the cast did a great job as well, with only a few weak points here and there.
I got to hand it to first-time feature director Ben Rock. The dude took a really tiny budget (I've heard it was anywhere from $1.5-3 million) and turned out one of the slicker movies I've seen. He and his cinematographer's use of lighting and different styles of shooting really makes this movie rise above their financial limitations. Although, it is a shame that, towards the end, they have to resort to some old tricks (Stuttery-looking action scenes, anyone?). But at least it looks better than "Automaton Transfusion", which looks like it was shot by a hyperactive kid with a camera strapped to his head while he tried to stand still.
Overall this movie was a pleasant surprise. I'd have to give it at least an 8 out of 10. I heard this is going straight to DVD, so I definitely say give it a shot when it comes out. Hope you use this review.
This movie is definitely not going to win any awards. It's also not
going to make any top 10 lists at the end of the year. It won't even
make cult status.
What it will do is entertain you & keep you on the edge of your seat.
The premise is simple. A group of independent "alien hunters" have descended on a small town, and specifically a grocery store where they seem to have found the original infection. Do they do the best job securing the location?? No. Do they seem dis organized, and nervous?? Yes. But I think that adds to the plot. These are not trained police officers, or ex military men. They are regular Joe's that have found something that needs to be stopped.
What's most impressive is the way the tension is built throughout the film. You feel the same claustrophobic tension that you get in Splinter, and there's a similar feeling to the great Spanish film "rec" This movie isn't quite as good in quality as those two movies, but there's a good mix of "what the heck is going on" and "how is this whole thing going to end."
There are very limited special effects in this movie, and when used they add to the story, they don't take away. There's almost no CGI, and that's a good thing. The Sci Fi channel could really learn something about creating movies like this, where you have alien invasions without using incredibly cheap and campy CGI, just a little make up, and some cool camera tricks and hold back the pay off till the last minute. It's an easy formula that's been missing from science fiction films for quite some time. Directors have fallen in love with being able to create big creatures, but don't know how to build tension.
Now, the movie does have plot wholes, and relies on some clichés. The one cop that happens to be a hostage negotiator from "the big city." The ending isn't as surprising as they want it to be. Still, for a direct to DVD movie, this is about as good as it gets.
It's science fiction, so suspend disbelief a bit, and imagine how you would react if you were in the characters shoes. It's an enjoyable little trip.
"Alien Raiders" has proved that, through masterful directions, good
actings, a low budget thriller can still deliver high quality
The story is simple but interestingly fresh. The editing was skillfully done. The level of suspense was surprisingly high, (aided with clever cinematography) surpassing one's expectation. One could sense that the efforts put into every scene of the film was made so with some kind of rare honesty and genuinity that are so lacking in many of the modern day thriller-movies. Never was there a moment when i feel cheated or wanna say, "Hey this is cheap".
The intensity of this film would also put many of the bigger budget thrillers out there to shame. (If u get hold of a copy of this DVD, do watch it in dark!)
Lastly, in my humble opinion, many of those who were involved in this film are probably going it make big-time in the not too distant future, especially the director.
I went to see this movie last night at the NYCHFF. I have to admit I was apprehensive about the title, but the movie surpassed my expectation by miles. The pacing was great. I was never bored for a minute and not once did I feel like looking at my watch. What seems like a completely implausible premise is well justified in the screenplay and while viewing the movie I never thought, "BS. I don't believe it." The actors were very well cast by John Jackson. Everyone delivers strong performances. This was director Ben Rock's first feature and I never would have known it, awesome awesome job. The suspense was set up perfectly. Lots of good payoffs but not too bloody and grotesque that it ever felt like a gross out flick. And the real test of a good thriller is always how tired are my arms from the tension?...complete fatigue. I really cannot say enough about this movie. As of now it comes out on DVD February 20th or thereabouts. DO NOT MISS IT. This is what independent horror films should be...
I watched this movie thinking it'd be another one of those lame sci-fi
channel movies or something along those lines. Boy was I wrong. This
movie is seriously GOOD. It has twists, turns and great acting.
None of those over-the-top Hollywood effects and mishmash, no unnecessary boy+girl gets out alive crap, no mercy really. It's bare bones sci-fi horror and imho it beats pretty much anything that has been made with a million dollar budget lately. It is in some ways reminiscent of the thing from '82. Small confined space, aliens etc.
The back story we get a taste of is intriguing and doesn't tell us too much, which again is a good thing. The less you know about "it" the more exciting every little tidbit is, and the more horrible it is. When did H.P Lovecraft ever tell us all the details? Never, which is what makes great horror. Even in the end you are left with lots of questions and I for one pray for a sequel that continues along the same lines without ever answering them all.
If you have a chance watch it. If you don't, find a way.
I agree with a lot of the posters aside from one thing. The movie
itself was good, they did a lot with limited budget. Nothing seemed
cheap and the "gore" was well done. Blood looked like blood and not the
usual red kool-aide on low budge movies.
The acting was good. Even the unheard of actors, maybe first film all did a bang up job.
Directing was good, aside from a little over use of the choppy action scene I had no problems.
The script was well written, it didn't leave you any big hole that for some reason most movie do not seem to care about.
The only and BIG problem was the ending. So cliché. One slight change and this would have been an 8 and not a 6.
I really love it when an independent film is made well. I'm all for the underdog rising above the corporate giants with their millions and billions. A film doesn't always need expensive special effects (yes sometimes they do blow u away, but the use of CGI is getting ridiculous now), and a worthy script with good actors and some creative low budget FX can be enough to keep you entertained....if you haven't been brainwashed yet that is. Getting to my point, Alien Raiders delivers because you don't expect it too (I think they chose the name because of that reason). The name sucks, the beginning with the dodgy camcording makes you think 'is this what it's gonna be like', and then wallop you become absorbed in this little gem. It may be because I love alien movies, and people's interpretations on the whole alien invasion, including what they look like and what power they possess. Yes the film is pretty much all in a supermarket and yes the protectors of the universe do some really stupid things, but we're all human. You have to look at Alien Raiders for what it is and appreciate how well it was delivered for it's small budget. The actors did a great job, they we're very convincing, and the raiders we're relentless throughout which was great. If they think you're an alien well you're in big trouble, coz they don't like aliens not one bit. The twist was mildly obvious but still it could only be one of the 5 or 6 hostages so what do you expect. Those that have been hating on this are not fans of indie flicks obviously, and probably watch Die Hard 4.0 (which I loved by the way) and think that if a car doesn't take out a helicopter then it ain't worth watching. I've seen many bad indie horror flicks and thats why this gets positive comments from me. It stands out from the crowd and except for the supermarket setting has no similarities, and is not a copy of 'The Mist' (which again I loved). Give it a go...if you don't like it....well tough I did.
In Buck Lake, Arizona, the Hastings Supermarket is apparently assaulted
by a group of terrorists leaded by Ritter (Carlos Bernard) that takes
clients and employees in a hostage situation. One of the team members,
Spooky (Philip Newby), examines the hostages detecting who should be
executed and releasing the others. When Spooky is killed by the
security cop, the six last shoppers and employees are kept tied and
submitted to a test in one finger. Sooner the abductors reveal that
they are a team of scientists containing an alien outbreak and avoid an
The tense and claustrophobic "Alien Raiders" has a great concept and good story. The screenplay could have a better development of characters and situation, since the identity of the king was very predictable for me; but considering the simplicity of the plot associated to the low-budget, the result was a remarkable movie with a great make-up and few special effects that exceeded my best expectations. The cast has magnificent performances and it was great to see Rockmond "C-Note" Dunbar and Mathew "Keith Charles" St. Patrick again on the screen. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Refém do Desconhecido" ("Hostage of the Unknown")
Easily a 7. Well written, good casting, an ending which I have not seen
used in awhile but it was frequent some years ago. You will be wanting
to know exactly what this movie is all about for quite some time, it is
given to you a little at a time. But long before the movie ends you
will know, only you won't know how it ends. It is simply well written.
I'll make a stew for you: Alien + The Thing + Hidden + Assault on Precinct 13.
The assault on precinct 13 I mention cause they are in one single location the whole time. Really, to do so much with so little ..... OK, it is near brilliant. Better than other movies that rely upon other effects to stay interesting.
But to rate it 8 and higher it need to be spiced up some more .... now I feel like giving it an 8, but I have to restrain myself. Nothing else to say, just go see the movie.
This movie has been cleared by me. ;)
A group of former rocket scientists (presumably, as they worked for jet
propulsion laboratories) takes over a small town supermarket in order
to find and stop the spread of an evil alien menace. Things go a bit
off track when their spotter dies and they have to resort to secondary
methods in order to determine who is or isn't an alien.
There is a message board thread for this film that bears the title, "Ruined by a Bad Name". I could not agree with this more. I was aware of the film's existence for months and was hesitant to see a film called "Alien Raiders", because it's frankly a really stupid name. Even when my review copy arrived, I was reluctant to give it a fair chance simply because I figured that creative people would be able to find a better name...
But judging a book by its cover or a movie by its title can be unfair. And this falls in that category, as "Alien Raiders" really isn't all that bad. It's certainly not great -- it went straight to DVD for a reason -- but nothing that's going to cause you to go brain dead or regret hanging out with your friends and enjoying some tasty Scotch and beer whilst the film rolls.
The special effects were pretty decent and should be highlighted. There were aspects I hated (such as the night vision, which isn't a shock if you realize how close the director was to "The Blair Witch Project"). There were aspects I disliked, such as the alien thrashing back in forth in strobe-o-vision. But other parts, such as the regeneration and the alien makeup, were quite good. Not as good as, say, John Carpenter's "The Thing", but few films are.
We are also treated to the high and low end of acting and character development. We are given two actors/characters who are polar opposites on the scale of enjoyability. Samantha Streets brings us "Whitney", the female protagonist. She's an important part of the film, and I suspect this may open some doors for Streets. But, we also have Rockmund Dunbar as "Kane", a gun-toting loudmouth who plays a very stereotypical "angry black man", and even pushes it a bit far. He's got no depth at all. I enjoyed Dunbar on "Prison Break", but if this is the sort of role he's going to choose for movies, just stay home.
I don't know that this is the sort of film you should run out and see right away. There are other fine options to choose from, including Raw Feed's "Otis" if you haven't seen that yet. "Alien Raiders" offers a nice "body snatcher" story, and held my attention firmly for its duration, so that's a plus. I'm torn -- don't go out of your way to avoid it, but don't add it to the top of your Netflix queue. This is more of a backup plan.
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