A heavily armed group descends on a small-town supermarket. They gun down a customer, and announce that they are robbing the place. More killings ensue, but it soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary robbery. A strange form of triage is taking place that determines who is shot and who is allowed to live. Before long, only a handful of employees and customers remain, and it becomes clear that the attackers are not thieves at all, but in fact humanity’s last hope against an insidious alien invasion.
The title is utterly generic. It might as well be “Sci-Fi Horror Thriller.” And sure, the flick has its share of scenes of people creeping around nondescript interiors in the dark. But while one would be understandably tempted, at first glance, to dismiss Alien Raiders as yet another bit of filler for the Sci-Fi Channel (oops, sorry, that should be SyFy Channel) and the like, it is, on the contrary, a most engaging and reasonably suspenseful exercise. The monster effects are (wisely) kept in the shadows, making a virtue out of low-budget necessity, and the performances and writing are both sharp, making a very familiar scenario fresh again. The conclusion is telegraphed a little clumsily, but in the end, that’s a minor problem. There’s a real aura of desperation surround the characters, and one can’t help but root form them.
For all that the bulk of the movie takes place in a supermarket with the lights out, the image, however dark, is never murky. The contrasts and blacks are very strong, as are the colours (lots of nice, crimson gore). There are no problems with grain or edge enhancement, either. The layer transition, though, is extremely clumsy, coming right in the middle of a character’s speech. The aspect ratio is the usual 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.
The rather spare nature of the film means that there aren’t a great many opportunities for elaborate sound design, though the score certainly makes full use of the 5.1 surround. When an opportunity does arise, however, the results are pretty impressive. The most persuasive examples being the occasional deafening gunshot, and the huge alien roar that understandably freaks the entire cast out.
Hidden Terror: The Making of Alien Raiders: (8:25) Nothing special here. Your standard “everything’s great!” promo featurette.
Blood, Sweat and Fears: The Special Effects of Alien Raiders: (2:56) A featurette more specific in content, but also very short.
Tape #9: Sterling Explains Alien: (5:56). This is a bit more interesting. It’s the full version of a videotape we see a portion of in the film, where team member Sterling (Courtney Ford) gives us the 101 on the alien biology.
Tape #12: Spookie’s Job: (4:06) This is similar to the above, only it deals with the psychic on the team, and none of this footage shows up in the film itself.
Whitney Cam: (8:46) Video web posts from heroine Whitney (Samantha Streets).
Trailers: Six of them, including the one for Alien Raiders.
Alien Raiders is not going to change the horror/SF world as we know it. But it is an intelligent little B-picture, delivering exactly what it promises, and sometimes, that’s good enough.