Alien Raiders (2008) — Not as generic as its name suggests

“Too much better living through chemistry screws them up real good.”

Justin’s rating: Four out of five pinkies

Justin’s review: For my money, there is no movie title that’s more generic SyFy flick-o-the-week than Alien Raiders. Picking that name when you actually have a halfway decent scifi-horror flick is like shooting yourself in the foot with a harpoon gun right before running the 100-meter dash. The title doubles down on uselessness by not telling you a single thing about the film itself.

So I’m genuinely surprised that anyone actually made the effort to watch this indie flick, but someone must have, because it started popping up in word-of-mouth lists as a 90-minute romp that flew under everyone’s radar.

It’s closing time at a small generic supermarket when a rather large group of robbers storm in and take over. But almost immediately, we can tell something’s really off here. Some of the shoppers are killed deliberately, nobody’s looking for money, the place is chained up to keep anyone from leaving, and one of the robbers is using some sort of telepathy to screen the hostages.

What we have here isn’t a robbery at all, but a group of very determined scientists attempting to save the world from the nucleus of an alien invasion. An extraterrestrial “breeder,” disguised as a human, has apparently set itself up in this store and is happily impregnating people on the down low.

When the initial plan to find the breeder hits a few snags — such as losing the team’s alien-spotter — everyone holes up in the store and a race is on to find the E.T. among the hostages before the SWAT team arrives. Shooting them all isn’t an option, but neither is staying indefinitely and becoming alien food or lead depositories.

Mixing together bits of The Thing, Body Snatchers, The Mist, and Alien into a tense, well-directed thriller made for a surprisingly good time. I really liked how Alien Raiders shows us a lot of the initial action through bewildered civilians, who learn the truth at roughly the same rate we do. And the fact that this is an indie production means all practical effects with no CGI. I can respect that.

The competence of this movie is illuminated when you discover that its director, Ben Rock, has ties to The Blair Witch Project (on which he was the production designer).

Alien Raiders isn’t a perfect film — it’s a little too murky in most of its scenes for my taste — but it’s really worth a watch if you’re a fan of the aforementioned flicks. It’s just a shame that the title and marketing couldn’t be as good as the actual experience itself.

Didja notice?

  • Crime prepping: The music video
  • Why not camcorder your robbery?
  • The backup plan for finding hidden aliens is pretty messy
  • The cops reviewing the video footage is a great way to do backstory

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