We’re going to get killed if we sit here!
I’m going to start this in a very different way than normal by stating that the IMDB rating of 2.8/10 for this film is undeserved. I normally write this section before the film, but I have waited this time and whilst I wasn’t planning on writing about the IMDB rating, I was genuinely surprised when getting the cast data that the 118 people that have rated the film on that website have ranked it as 2.8/10.
That is comfortably the lowest ranked film that I have reviewed for this site, but I do feel it is somewhat unjustified. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to get the approval stamp at the end of this review, and my rating wouldn’t be much higher, but I do feel that ranking it so low has been a little unfair, and don’t worry, I will go into why.
However, did you notice how I only said it was a little unfair? Yeah, don’t be fooled by the trailers, this isn’t a typical alien invasion movie and in this specific example, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Please note that whilst the film isn’t presented in chronological order, the below is written in when they would have happened as it would get too confusing to describe the constant back and forth nature.
David (Madison) and Amy (Langton) are in a loveless marriage and both have been unfaithful. Amy becomes frustrated when David agrees to go to a meeting in Denver with Ryan (Diamond), backing out of a wedding he’d agreed to go to. Whilst there David and Ryan see news stories of planes going down all over the world, and their phones soon lose signals. David decides to go back to Amy and leaves Ryan behind.
As he struggles to find a way home, he encounters a very strange man who seems like he’s stoned, but David soon abandons him after seeing a strange light surrounding a petrol station that they stopped at. After almost hitting another person with a similar condition, David is taken in briefly by a man as his home is about to get invaded and he barely escapes with his life.
David continues his journey home and finds another group of survivors, including a woman called Sam (Hales), and the two survive an alien attack by hiding in a tree. At this point, David realises how unlikely it is that he’ll get back to Amy, but he is determined to do so.
So why is it worth more than 2.8/10?
Well let’s start this by saying that I really struggled to make the plot sound interesting whilst writing the above part, and this is mainly because of how the film is presented. It’s constantly flipping backwards and forwards between the past and present, and this causes a lot of confusion and kills the pacing of the film right off. There are moments when David is on the verge of being found by the aliens, only for it to then flip to a conversation between he and Amy that is irrelevant to the scene.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this technique, but in other examples, such as the TV show “Lost” it is used to effect in each episode and isn’t rushed like it is in “Alienate”.
The pacing is off throughout the entire film and whilst I wasn’t bored for the most part, it was hard to really get invested in the characters because of the pacing, and the lack of development, that in the end I didn’t really care if David makes it back to Amy. It’s a bit strange that in a completely loveless marriage, in which he openly admits that he has had an affair and has confessed to Ryan that there are big problems, the first thought when his flight is cancelled due to planes going down is to rush home to be with her again. And the weird thing is that Amy, who again has been having an affair and has shown very little affection to David throughout the past scenes in the film, suddenly only wants to see him.
David and Amy certainly isn’t the only storyline that doesn’t make a lot of sense when you think about it. Ryan’s mini-storyline, in which he says to Amy that he’s alone and has no-one, ends up with him literally picking up a small child and saying he’ll help her find her family….and that’s it. You never see him again and it’s just like “oh, well what was the point in that?”
Aside from the characters and the odd storylines surrounding them, there are just such basic errors, for example, towards the end Samantha is begging David to join her in the helicopter….whilst she is strapping herself into the seat where you enter the helicopter. If he is to join her, he would have to climb over her to get to the empty seat, which is a very strange way of showing someone that you definitely want them in the helicopter with you.
Then there is also the time when they run over an alien and despite it being pitch black, with no lighting whatsoever in the area, David is driving without his lights on.
I suppose I should list some positives and the main one for me is that it would have been too easy to copy all of the other alien invasion style movies and just shown constant death and destruction. Reading some of the IMDB reviews that appears to be the main reason that most didn’t like it, the fact it’s presented like a traditional alien invasion movie, whereas the aliens aren’t really featured that much and you never really get a good look at them.
Despite the characters not being very well written, and being contradiction filled, the writers have at least tried to add some depth to them and not just have them as part of massive body count. There is at least some attempt to have them be deep characters, even if it isn’t executed brilliantly.
The acting isn’t awful, it’s passable, even though it’s not brilliant, then again, what do you expect from someone who looks like a discount Jesse Eisenberg as your main character?
And finally, probably my biggest positive about “Alienate” is that despite it’s flaws, I wasn’t bored during it. Even though you don’t really care about the characters, can’t believe how stupid they are and the oddities surrounding Ryan disappearing with a small child, never to be seen again, you’re not really bored.
It’s not as bad as 2.8/10 suggests, but it’s certainly not a good film. The characters are moronic in many ways and despite the best intentions of everyone involved, it’s hard to really care about them. You don’t really care if Amy and David are back with each other at the end of the film because it is presented as a completely loveless marriage that wouldn’t realistically be saved by an alien invasion. There was no emotional impact when *SPOILER ALERT* David does eventually find Amy and she is shot dead by an alien before they’re even near each other.
If it just wasn’t careless with certain plot points then it wouldn’t have been too bad, and whilst 2.8/10 is harsh, I certainly wouldn’t give it more than 4/10, and even then I’m being somewhat generous.
In short, I wouldn’t waste your time.