Friday, October 25, 2013
Alien Raiders (2008)(Spoiler Review)
**This review contains spoilers**
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 a firefight, Ulrich and Spooky are shot to death by a local police officer named Chambers (Keith Hudson). With their motives unclear, the remaining hostages beg for answers.
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 his stepdaughter, Whitney (Samantha Streets), who also works at Hastings as a cashier. 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.
Benny (Jeffrey Licon), a lower level employee at Hastings Market, is determined to protect Whitney at all costs, while ignoring his whiny store manager Mr. Tarkey (Joel McCrary), and trying to devise a plan with another co-worker named Manny (Derek Basco).
The group runs into some serious trouble, when a hostage is exposed as an alien after a routine pinky test. As the group’s clairvoyant, Spooky was the only one, who could use his telepathic powers to sniff out an alien without harming anyone. With no other options left, Ritter agrees to release one hostage, if Steadman releases Charlotte (Bonita Friedericy), another clairvoyant, from jail to help. But the alien parasite quickly infects members of the hostage group one by one, and time is running out for Charlotte to answer one crucial question: Who is the king?
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.
So we’re in the final stages of the film, and we’re all lead to believe Chambers is the one, who’s carrying the alien parasite as the king. But there’s a twist! Ritter puts himself in the line of fire, while holding the alien in place, so the cops can have a clear shot to kill the alien once and for all. The alien is shot to death, and Chambers is dead. Ritter is bleeding to death from bullet wounds, so he begs Sterling for a mercy-killing. Sterling agrees, but it’s not over yet.
After a careful inspection, Charlotte realizes Chambers wasn’t carrying the king. Instead, it was Whitney all along. For the final scene of the movie, Benny and Whitney are sitting in a cop car by themselves, and after Seth’s pleas on a walkie-talkie, Benny FINALLY realizes Whitney is carrying the dominant alien. Benny tries to shoot Whitney, but Whitney transforms, and she murders Benny as the screen fades to black.
Amazing swerve. Throughout the movie, Whitney is this panicky mess, and Benny does everything he can possibly do to defend the girl of his dreams, including sacrificing his pinky (more on that later). There’s no way you could suspect Whtiney as “The One,” because Alien Raiders does a good job of throwing you off the trail. Using hindsight, I was able to pick up on a few obvious clues for Whitney being the dominant alien. For starters, Whitney avoided the pinky test, because Benny stood up and took her spot. And on top of that, Whitney went out of her way to play this innocent victim, who NEEDED protection. It’s a genuinely shocking twist with an ironic and tragic ending, because throughout the movie, Benny risked everything to save and protect Whitney, but in the end, Whitney turned on Benny to brutally murder him.
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? Well, Sterling and the others had no choice after Spooky’s death, because Charlotte and Spooky are the only ones, who possess the ability to sense an alien presence without dismembering.
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.
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