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- Published on Amazon.com
Alien Raiders (2008) is a tense, gripping, darkly atmospheric, science fiction thriller, where the action gets off to a fast start. Violence suddenly erupts in a supermarket in Buck Lake, Arizona, when a group wearing masks, and armed with guns, enter the store looking for someone, or something. As the story unfolds, the reasons for what is happening are revealed gradually, as the story unfolds. Spoilers are ahead, so proceed at your own discretion.
Carlos Bernard (24) is Aaron Ritter, the leader of the group that is seeking to identify and exterminate, any carriers infected by an alien creature. Infected humans appear to be normal, so the group uses a 'spotter' who has the ability to detect the alien's presence. Anyone detected is shot immediately, however when the spotter is killed, the group is forced to resort to other means to indentify who may by infected.
With the police outside, the group releases those found 'alien free', and barricade themselves inside the mid-sized market. Six customers and store staff remain to be tested for alien infestation. The police are led by former hostage negotiator Seth Steadman (Mathew St. Patrick), who's stepdaughter Whitney (Samantha Streets) is one the hostages. Ritter is an ex-employee of Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL). JPL employees, including Ritter's wife, were among the first victims of the alien, brought to Earth by an extra-terrestrial source.
Ritter's group includes Sherry Sterling (Courtney Ford), who conducts tests and analyzes tissues, while Kane (Rockman Dunbar) and Logan (Tom Kiesche) keep watch over the prisoners. The test is grisly, but it produces results, as an alien is uncovered, and violently tries to escape. The prisoners make an attempt at freedom, but another alien makes an unexpected appearance, and hell begins to break loose in the market. Steadman enters the market with a replacement spotter (Bonita Friedericy), hoping to rescue his daughter. In dealing with the alien, Ritter and Sterling both do what they have to do, while the inept police mostly stand around watching.
At a certain level, Alien Raiders works as a fairly effective and suspenseful thriller. The writing is solid, and the alien backstory seems to hold up, although the creature bears some resemblance to the Alien facesitter, and bursts out of the chest in similar manner. The acting by most of the cast is pretty good, particularly by Joel McCrary as the store manager, and Bonita Friedericy. Ritter is kind of reminiscent of Tony Almeida from 24, wielding a gun, and giving commands in a low whisper. Courtney Ford is very cool customer, with some striking eyes.
Under a little critical scrutiny however, cracks in the film do appear. The scale way off. The market is not that big, but there seems to be an unrealistic number of back of the house spaces, featured in the film. The store is so small, yet it takes so long for people to move from place to place. In this confined space, the alien is somehow able to remain hidden, pop out, and then instantly disappear. The lights are turned off so the police can't see what is happening inside, but if they were turned back on, it would be much easier to hunt down the alien. While Ritter and his group start out ruthlessly slaughtering carriers, they later become a little too complacent about dealing with potential aliens, and this lack of vigilance ends up costing them.
Still, if you don't dwell too much on its faults, director Ben Rock's film is a fun time, sort of reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). In the mostly dark settings, the special effects are quite effective, and a nice set of extra features adds to the flavor of the whole package, with in-character clips featuring Sterling and Whitney. Fans of the alien creature genre, might want to check this Raw Feed production.