by Rick Grant
There’s nothing like an alien invasion movie to put the depressing holiday season in perspective. (Hey, it could happen.) To mark its difference from the other films of this genre, this hostile-alien-invasion movie was shot in Moscow, Russia, with an all-Russian crew.
The movie stars two naive young American software developers, Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella), who fly to Russia to present their new software to a Russian firm.
Sean and Ben get to the meeting late, only to find out that in Russia there are no rules. The first person to present the software to the Russians wins the contract. In other words, their project was hijacked by a creep named Skyler (Joel Kinnaman). Oh, don’t worry, justice is served. He gets zapped by the aliens.
So what do two ripped-off American dudes do? They go to a Moscow bar to get filthy drunk and maybe get lucky with some sexy Russian babe. (Natch.) There they meet two American girls—Anne (Rachael Taylor) and Natalie (Olivia Thirlby). No sooner than the foursome are having a good time, the lights go out. Uh-oh, the aliens have landed, floating down like large electrically charged snowflakes.
The alien invaders are cloaked and shielded by electromagnetic energy. They can use arcs of this powerful energy to reach out like a long hand and vaporize humans. They go invisible at will, but humans can follow them because the aliens briefly turn on lights and gadgets as they creep along. The hapless survivors find out this was a global invasion. The human race is in danger of extinction.
The stalwart Americans run for safety and find an eccentric Russian scientist who has blanketed his apartment with an electrical shield. He discovered that microwaves kill the fiendish creatures, so he made a crude microwave gun to use against them. Russian citizens shooting AK-47s only piss off the aliens and get reduced to ashes.
Interestingly, the extraterrestrials see in the thermo-light spectrum, which shows humans clearly against the cooler background. When the American foursome ventures out into the city, everyone is dead except a few macho, self-proclaimed Russian military guys.
The film was shot by Chris Gorak on a low budget of $44 million, most of which went into the special effects, which are spectacular. The story goes into the post-apocalyptic world of the global survivors forming a resistance to defeat the aliens. Of course, the invaders want something, but I will keep that secret.
The whole alien invasion genre has exploded with every possible slant on the subject. My personal favorite is District 9 for its subtle satire of the aliens who eat and get high on cat food, which is sold to them like drugs. But this little film is just quirky enough to deserve attention from sci-fi enthusiasts who are seeking a different take on the genre.
The Darkest Hour Movie Review
by Rick Grant