Invasion from outside of our atmosphere has been a fear for as long as man has looked up at the sky. HG Wells’ War of the Worlds spurred on a lot of that fear, even more so when it has been adapted to radio and screen. We see invasion films come in waves too, with the most recent one including BATTLE: LA, SKYLINE, and BATTLESHIP. And on January 30th, we may see yet another wave with IFC Midnight’s ALIEN OUTPOST leading the charge.
The year 2021, the earth is invaded by a race of aliens colloquially known as The Heavies. Suited up in body armor and using energy weapons, the Heavies ravaged the planet, killing millions in their path. A year later, the United Nations became the United Space Defense Federation (USDF) and with an allied front chased off the main Heavy ships, but left many individual troops on ground. The USDF created outposts throughout the planet in areas still infested to fend off and fight off the leftovers. Ten years later, most of the world has moved on, healing from the devastation. But the soldiers in the outposts are underfunded, and mostly forgotten, despite putting their lives on the line for humanity.
“Sir, we’re journalists, not soldiers.” “Everyone became a soldier ten years ago whether they like it or not!”
Two journalists are tagging along with 3 soldiers as they are relocated to one of the remaining outposts, Outpost 37 in the DMZ along the Afghani/Pakistan border. The Heavies retreated to this mountainous terrain so Outpost 37 is one of the busiest remaining outposts. Headed by Captain Spears (Rick Ravanello, THE CAVE, HART’S WAR) and his 2nd in command, North (Matthew Holmes), the outpost initially appears off putting to the new soldiers and the documentary workers, but they eventually warm up, showing a tight knit brotherhood with a fierce devotion to each other and their captain. Shortly after arriving, the outpost comes under fire from human inhabitants in the area trying to chase off the USDF. They feel that the ten years has been long enough and they want their land back. Soon enough, they find that the USDF isn’t done fighting quite yet.
Directed by Jabbar Raisani, who also co-wrote, it is obvious that he’s learned a ton from his wealth of work as a visual effects supervisor on Game of Thrones and films such as PREDATORS, MACHETE, and under-appreciated THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE. From working on such big sets (as well as small ones), he knows what it takes to make the film look massive in detail. From the set design to the creature work, ALIEN OUTPOST plays like a strong summer sci-fi/action flick just without a huge star behind it. Had there been at least one bigger named actor, I think it would do gangbusters at the box office.
The documentary style format plays very well, tying in interviews with the different soldiers, showing
manufactured stock footage from the initial invasion, with the first person camera style getting to the meat and potatoes portion of the action. It allows the film to flow better than if it was just a standard “found footage” film, giving it more of a narrative feel. With the soldier’s interviews as well, it gives us an opportunity to learn more about the characters, without having to have a ton of bulky dialogue to pad out the character work. All of the actors involved feel organic as the soldiers, not appearing as typical actors wearing camo. And the sense of brotherhood felt natural as well, showing the tough love along with the rowdy rough house nature of bored guys stuck in one spot for a while.
The biggest compliment I can think to give about a film is just wanting to know more about the world it creates. And with ALIEN OUTPOST, I want to experience more with the story of the Heavies. I could definitely go for a sequel or even a more in depth prequel looking at the invasion. I felt that it would be a great companion piece to DISTRICT 9, and while that deals with the allegory of apartheid, ALIEN OUTPOST deals with a bit of imperialism and brute force not always being the best form of diplomacy.
ALIEN OUTPOST will be in select theaters January 30th, 2015!