Friday, October 25, 2013

Alien Raiders (2008)(Minor Spoilers Review)

**This review contains MINOR spoilers, no big reveals, twists, or character deaths**

Five days before Christmas, a group of raiders invade Hastings Market in Buck Lake, Arizona. Within the quiet little town holding a small population of 25, 012, the citizens of Buck Lake are used to living peaceful and harmless lives, but on this one night, the raiders will change everything forever.

Led by Aaron Ritter (Carlos Bernard), the group of raiders include Sterling (Courtney Ford), Kane (Rockmond Dunbar), Spooky (Philip Newby), Ulrich (Joseph Steven Yag), and Logan (Tom Kiesche). During the calamity, a local police officer named Chambers (Keith Hudson) quietly lurks inside, waiting for the right opportunity to take out the bad guys. With their motives unclear, the remaining hostages beg for answers. As Hastings’ employees, Benny (Jeffery Licon), Whitney (Samantha Streets), and Manny (Derek Basco) try to devise a plan for an escape together, while the store manager Mr. Tarkey (Joel McCrary) constantly whines about everything.

On the outside, Seth Steadman (Matthew St. Patrick), the lead detective and a former hostage negotiator, tries to work out a deal with Ritter, so he can secure the safety of the hostages. But the situation becomes more complex when Ritter reveals the details behind his mission: Ritter is the leader of a secret alien hunting group. Ritter and his team search the United States in a never ending mission to exterminate the alien threat with Logan recording everything. Ritter and his team believe the king of the alien species, who is capable of possessing any human, is hiding somewhere in Hastings Market.

Spooky possesses a unique ability as a clairvoyant, because he’s capable of sensing the alien’s presence, but time is running out, as the alien terrorizes the helpless victims within the supermarket.

Unfortunately,  Alien Raiders features a set of generic characters. Benny is the shy nerd, who’s chasing the dream girl (Whitney), who’s out of his league. Mr. Tarkey is the slimy boss. Ritter is the conflicted leader, who struggles with the dilemma of doing the right thing for his cause, and not crossing  moral boundaries. And Kane is your typical snarling tough guy. No real complaints about the consistent set of decent performances, but the generic characters drove me nuts most of the time.

Alien Raiders feels like a mix of The Thing and The Mist (2007). Survivors are trapped in a tight isolated death trap, while a sneaky alien wreaks havoc. Although, if you remember John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, MacReady and others used blood tests to sniff out the alien, but in Alien Raiders, they use a pinky test. Sterling uses a very big kitchen knife to chop off the test subject’s pinky. If the test subject simply bleeds out, then they’re a normal human, and the severed pinky is placed in a container of ice. BUT the aliens are capable of regeneration, so if the pinky grows back, then there’s another alien to worry about. Sounds like a primitive way of testing, huh?

I’ll admit, Alien Raiders took me by surprise, but this film is not without its problems. I mentioned the generic characters earlier, and this film featured one too many corny moments for my taste. A prime example would be the mushy “I’ll do anything for you!” stuff between Whitney and Benny. I’m not trying to sound like a macho tough guy, but the “moments” between Whitney and Benny are too contrived and fake.

Still, Alien Raiders is a nice little low budget sci-fi horror treat. You’ll see a few creepy moments here and there, and there’s enough blood and nasty carnage to satisfy the gore fiends. Plus, the jaw-dropping twist and the cliffhanger at the end pack a powerful punch. I was prepared to go with a lower score, but the twist and the cliffhanger changed my mind. Yeah, the double-whammy at the end is THAT good. Alien Raiders isn’t perfect by a long shot, but it’s worth a try, if you’re a fan of sci-fi horror.

Rating: 7/10

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