'Alien Outpost': Film Review

Coco van Oppens
A "District 9" wannabe

Soldiers do desert battle with alien invaders in this low-budget, sci-fi thriller

Jabbar Raisani's sci-fi actioner Alien Outpost is set in the year 2033, when American soldiers are still fighting and dying in the dusty deserts between Pakistan and Afghanistan. But the good news is we're no longer battling the forces of terrorism, but rather alien invaders. That's at least progress of a sort.

As opening title cards ponderously inform us, Earth was invaded a decade earlier by alien fighters who were eventually defeated by a unified planetary military force (now that's real sci-fi). Unfortunately, some of the aliens, known as the "Heavies," were left behind, resulting in the formation of various military outposts around the world to clean up the residual mess.

One of them, Outpost 37 (the film's original title), is manned by the sort of ethnically diverse military grunts who have populated war films for decades. Their exploits are being chronicled by a pair of embedded cameraman.

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Featuring a faux-documentary style reminiscent of any number of recent nonfiction films about American military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, Alien Outpost regurgitates their formulaic cliches, including on-camera confessional interviews with the soldiers, in numbing fashion. There are also endless scenes of the men sitting around shooting the breeze, usually teasing and ridiculing each other mercilessly.  

But that's all really an excuse for the videogame-style military mayhem which springs up periodically, with the soldiers engaging in frenetic firefights with alien creatures who look like they're heading for a Halloween party in West Hollywood.

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Featuring the sort of fleetingly seen, low-budget special effects that will make you want to rewatch Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, Alien Outpost doesn't even manage to do justice to its thematic conceits, failing to weave in its current day parallels in sufficiently thoughtful fashion. The scariest thing about it is the filmmakers' announcement that it's merely the first entry in a planned trilogy.

Production: Bigscope Films
Cast: Joe Reegan, Reiley McClendon, Matthew Holmes, Rick Ravenello, Scott Miller, Doug Tait
Director: Jabbar Raisani
Screenwriters: Jabbar Raisani, Blake Clifton
Producers: Jason Newmark, Laurie Cook, Trevor Engelson
Executive producers: Will Clarke, Ed Fraiman, Julia Godzinskaya, Andy Mayson, Josh McGuire, Adam Nagel, Jabbar Raisani, Mike Runagall, Michael Sackler, Evan Silverberg, Sophie Vickers
Director of photography: Blake Clifton
Production designer: Eddie Yang
Editors: Mike Jackson, Finnian Murray
Costume designer: Maria Hofmeyer

Composer: Theo Green
Casting: Andy Henry, Nancy Nayor

No rating, 93 min.