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Alien Raiders
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by Jay Seaver

"Part hostage situation, part hidden alien, all recycled."
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: By now, people attending this event sort of expect the "premieres" to be nothing to write home about, and this year was no exception; though "Alien Trespass" was a notch above average, the other two were as bad as usual. What's interesting (at least, if one is of an analytical bent) is that these two movies were terrible in completely opposite ways: Where "Chrysalis" was austere and boring despite having more ideas than it knew what to do with, "Alien Raiders" is frantic, grimy, and more or less bereft of a single original thought.

Much of the action takes place in Hastings' Supermarket, located in the quiet Arizona town of Buck Lake. Around closing time, stockboy Benny (Jeffrey Licon) is flirting with cashier Whitney (Samantha Streets), whose stepfather Seth (Mathew St. Patrick) is the new chief of police. A few customers are still milling about when Aaron Ritter (Carlos Bernard) and his paramilitary team arrive, locking the place down because they believe that someone in the building has an alien slug wrapping itself around their cerebral cortex. One of the customers is an off-duty cop, who gets a few shots off, thus preventing Ritter from exterminating his alien quickly and quietly.

Alien Raiders is, believe it or not, even more generic than its name suggests. The main body of it is a standard hostage drama, with Ritter riding herd over a clashing team and Seth trying to get background on them while worrying about his stepdaughter. The other 25% of the movie is similarly familiar "the alien could be anyone!" paranoia. On paper, that sounds like a good combination, but it doesn't work that way. Ritter's team are too professional to be worried about their hostages; the hostages are too scared of Ritter to entertain the notion of a parasitic alien.

The standoff plotline is even more lifeless. Where most movies built on that line have some intrigue coming from the hostage-takers' plans, there's none of that here; heck, I'm not sure Ritter even has an exit strategy. Tension fails to materialize between Ritter's group and his hostages; sure, they try to escape, and there are tests to try and determine which may be aliens, but it's never the sort of situation where something we learn may become important later, and nobody ever does anything unexpected. In addition, Bernard and St. Patrick do not make compelling adversaries, both of their characters are too level-headed.

That doesn't mean that things don't happen. Plenty happens; the action is fast-paced, bloody, and what we see is handled competently enough. Much of the action happens in dark rooms, and we never get a really good look at how the humans are mutated after the aliens completely take them over. There's a needlessly gruesome method of detecting alien possession (a blood test wouldn't work just as well because...?). There's plenty of going on, but it's all stuff we've seen before, and done better.

That's "Alien Raiders" in a nutshell. It's filler, stuff cranked out so that the Sci-Fi channel can have new programming on Saturday nights or so that Blockbuster can rotate a new bit of sci-fi action onto the new-release shelves every few months. It doesn't hurt to watch it, but there's so much actually good stuff out there, why bother?

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17966&reviewer=371
originally posted: 02/21/09 12:05:29
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2008 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2008 series, click here.

User Comments

9/17/11 hurdygurdy man Just saw this...it's midnite and I'm cravin some junk food. 3 stars
3/21/09 james obrien not good at all 2 stars
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  DVD: 17-Feb-2009



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