It's a British "splatstick" horror-comedy film by Jake West, inspired by the likes of Braindead
, House and Evil Dead.
It's vaguely dull and nothing special, but it's okay. Not noticeably different from Japanese nonsense like Alien vs. Ninja
, except for the inbred Welsh psychos.
The plot is an excuse for gore effects. Jennifer Evans is having sex with her boyfriend in a stone circle when aliens come down as if this is Independence Day and then do things that suggest they've been reading Whitley Strieber. The "alien proctologist" bit is familiar. Doing it with a spinning drill isn't.
The story then jumps to Emily Booth, who's a reporter for a tiny, sleazy TV channel. Her program tackles Fortean subjects, but it's clearly more interested in her cleavage than in journalistic standards. She convinces her boss (Norman Lovett) to send her to Wales with a miscellaneous crew of losers, where in time she'll find a family of approximately human Welsh troglodytes and some extremely violent aliens. Um... I think that's it.
The tone is light-hearted and silly. The gore is basically one big gag, which in fairness occasionally managed to make me laugh. The flying eyeballs and the shotgun goof are funny, while you've got to love his use of "I've Got A Brand-New Combine Harvester". Mowing down aliens like wheat to the accompaniment of The Wurzels. Jake West clearly remembers the lawnmower scene from Braindead
(as do we all) and was thus wondering instead what farm machinery would let him do something similar. Can't argue with his choices there. The CGI that lets him do it is so cheap and cheerful that at times it approaches a Tom and Jerry cartoon, but you can't say that doesn't fit with the rest of the movie.
Meanwhile the aliens are reminiscent of Predators, but not enough to get sued. They have corrugated head pipes instead of dreadlocks and their helmets remind me of the Sycorax from The Christmas Invasion, but fundamentally they're Predators. They even have similar knives.
The most interesting thing in the film is clearly the troglodytes. They only know Welsh and spit at the idea of speaking English, which is amusing. They're as bestial as the people in The Hills Have Eyes
or Deliverance and it would be amusing to imagine them hanging out with the Welsh cannibals from Countrycide, which was even broadcast in the same year. (This lot don't eat anyone, but they do seem to have romantic relationships with livestock.) The difference though is that they're not bad guys. They look like cave-dwellers and their best friends are chainsaws, shotguns, bows and arrows, machetes and so on, but they're useful guys to know when you're under attack from aliens. Anyway, they're fun. They're certainly far more entertaining than the gaggle of stereotypes tagging along with Emily Booth, who include a gay actor (Nick Smithers), a model (Jodie Shaw) and an alien-encounter nerd (Jamie Honeybourne).
There are undertones, of course. They'll crawl even into something as lowbrow as this. They include:
(a) quite a lot of religious imagery, which means nothing. The troglodytes' home furnishings make them look like Satanists, although the film seems unaware of this and indeed has one of them saying in Welsh that "no proper Christian should go near that place." Presumably the set designer simply thought skulls and pentagrams looked cool. In addition there's a legend about Satan and the Devil's Teeth (also never referred to again, although that has an explanation), while the first alien taken down by the troglodytes gets crucified.
(b) a lack of nudity. Women don't take their clothes off to have sex in this movie. Admittedly there's impressive cleavage and even a buxom naked alien (albeit with a grey-painted body and ugly alien face), but the only naughty bits you'll see are men's bottoms.
(c) enough drugs being taken that I'm tempted to try to read it as subtext, not to mention two men getting killed by anal intrusion. The second one is amazing, actually, except that the victim happens to be the film's one gay character. There's also a hideous alien fate for women who have sex, which puts a worrying spin on the usual thoughtless horror subtext of "punish the good-time girls." Not sure what all that's meant to be saying, but I'm pretty sure Jake West wasn't thinking too hard about themes and symbolism. He's more interested in quoting Jaws and Aliens
(d) a nice bit of irony towards the end with the Emily Booth character... except that the film then underlines its point thuddingly in dialogue.
(e) nerdy references. The film is holding up Star Trek
, for instance, with Honeybourne saying things like "What in Rodenberry's name is that?" whereas a more laddish character's shirt is saying "God hates Trek."
The cast are fine, with the odd exception of Norman Lovett and I'm giving him a free pass because it's always cool to see Norman Lovett in anything. Besides, it's only a cameo. He's another SF reference in himself, although I'm sad to see that he says he'll never to play Holly in Red Dwarf
again after the way Grant Naylor Productions have treated him over the years. Turning to the rest of the cast, Jodie Shaw is a model rather than an actress and a Google image search for her will yield all the nudity she doesn't reveal here. She's fine. It's not Shakespeare. She does the job. Emily Booth is very attractive. The troglodytes are fun. Nothing wrong there.
I also liked the implications about how long the aliens had been coming here, plus the final scene. Those were okay.
Is this a good film? No. Is it as good as Braindead
? No. It's shallow, throwaway and has a continuity blooper in the scene where Booth's top can't decide whether to be zipped up or to show cleavage. However I also understand it absolutely killed when played to receptive cinema audiences. It's a crowd experience, really. You can't say it's short of enthusiasm or energy. If everyone around you is having a great time, you'll probably come out thinking it's more splattery fun than you've had in a cinema in years.
Personally though I didn't find it very interesting, to the point where I almost got bored. It's a drunken party movie. Hell, it's practically the definitive example of the form. It has narrow ambitions, but within those bounds it's highly successful and I'm sure Jake West was pleased with it.