asher grayson, ben tector, calm macdonald, dominic mariche, gary coates, jason eisner, kids vs aliens, mat barkley, phoebe rex, sebastian harder, shudder, shudder australia, slumber party alien abduction, v/h/s 2
Talk about a movie of two halves. This low budget indie feature, Kids vs Aliens which is part of the Shudder Exclusive and Original range drags its heels in the first half, with a lot of establishing character and setting. Normally this would encourage me to connect with the picture, but in this case I was borderline straining to do so. This in part had more to do with overlay in foundation, we get the gist, a group of young kids, hard into recreating wrestling/end of the world role play that they shoot and capture on camera. They have their own troubles, including absent parental figures, sibling rivalry, surviving bullies, and… oh yeah trying to outlive an alien invasion. So in the film’s defence there are a few things to set up before the creatives turn the dial. And when it does, it goes off in a big way.
Director Jason Eisner (Hobo With A Shotgun) extends his vision from V/H/S 2 segment “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” to feature length, which does hinder the outlook as a result, stretching out this concept to meet a decent running time, but he more than makes up for it when the kids in question stumble headfirst into saving themselves from these creatures from outer space.
The kids, Gary (Dominic Mariche), Jack (Asher Grayson) and Miles (Ben Tector) are fully invested in completing their fantasy feature, with the help of Gary’s older sister, Samantha (Phoebe Rex). Samantha is fast realising that she is being weighed down by Gary and his friends, coming into her own, lured by the repugnant Billy (Calem MacDonald). The idea that an older boy has eyes for her, clouds her perception and it takes the alien invasion to restore her priorities. Billy also has other ideas, one that is purely about finding a place to host a party with his friends. It’s all about what we project upon others and the facade we use in order to impress others – the central theme of the movie.
When the alien presence comes in full force, the tension and action dials up a notch which is amplified by the guerilla style technique in cinematography (hats off to Mat Barkley). The combination of Special Effects (Gary Coates) and Visual Effects (Sebastian Harder) help cement Eisner’s vision further.
There’s an incredibly slow start to this film and one could easily turn off or tune out. It has all the hallmarks of tired formula in this section of the movie, but patience will reap its reward when the tempo ramps up at which point Director Jason Eisner uses all the tricks in his book to grip the audience through a manner of twists and turns.
The feature doesn’t shy away from taking controversial steps in its conclusion though, setting up the notion of further instalments down the track.
If you can wait out the slow pace beginning of the film and embrace the journey, Eisner presents an exciting, ramped up adventure that you want to be a part of.
- Saul Muerte
Kids vs Aliens is currently streaming on Shudder ANZ.