A ragtag group of survivors trying to outlast alien invaders isn’t a bad premise, but it requires a far better effort than Alien Outbreak can provide.
Sgt. Zoe Norris (Katherine Drake) and her partner, Patrick (Ritchie Crane), are part of an overworked police force dealing with a rash of random suicides. Eventually, Zoe and Patrick connect the mass suicides to the arrival of gigantic alien beings and their robot drones that resemble a less detailed version of the Imperial Probe droid designs from Star Wars.
As the aliens and their drones lumber along, the residents understandably start panicking, but take it to an extreme and began killing themselves. While the film is not gratuitously violent for the sake of being gory, the characters are ineffective at killing themselves and need several attempts to get it right leading to a lot of bloodshed. This seems like one of the aspects where the attention was spent on the wrong focus as it doesn’t help the film at all.
The pacing is sluggish as well as Zoe and Patrick don’t really have a plan besides hope their bullets are able to take out the drones long enough for them to go from one room to the next.
This strategy doesn’t pay off too well as eventually the survivors they do find opt to kill themselves anyway. It makes for a tough viewing experience as there’s less a feeling of hopelessness and more there’s little point to what’s happening.
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Director/writer Neil Rowe clearly is working on a very limited budget. Everything is far too crammed and tight. Rowe guides the film with too claustrophobic a touch. It feels like the camera is always right on top of the actors and combined with some frequently poor lighting, it’s hard to tell what happening. The angles and tight camera perspectives feel more a function of budget restrictions and less setting up a particular mood.
Perhaps not surprising given the budget, but the acting isn’t great. Drake is the biggest offender, which probably wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t such a pivotal character in the film who’s in nearly every scene. With a stronger lead, the film might have worked a little better. The bigger issue though is the restrictive camerawork and lousy lighting.
Rowe introduces a twist at the final act that’s pretty clever as it puts the events in a different light. It feels a little too late by the time Rowe makes this revelation. Alien Outbreak has some promise and Rowe does his best with limited resources, but it’s not enough to make the film worth checking out for anyone but the most die-hard sci-fi fans.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Photo Credit: October Coast