ALIEN DOMICILE ** USA 2017 Dir: Kelly Schwarze 70 mins
Although technically competent, this relatively ambitious low-budget sci-fi chiller riffs heavily on prominent mainstream genre fare of the last two decades and devolves into a ponderous succession of hallucinatory visuals, jump scares and weak confrontations. After a Charles Darwin quote, the story takes the standard post-SAW scenario of a group of seemingly unconnected people waking up together in a mysterious room, having seemingly been drugged. They have only vague, fragmented memories of how and why they might have ended up in their current predicament.
The ensemble – including a Department of Defence auditor, a nervous Russian and a guy from “Special Projects” – come to realise that the facility in which they are locked is at the notorious Area 51, Nevada and that all hell is breaking loose outside of their room. Writer-director Schwarze strives to sustain a degree of suspense, but it’s mostly just ponderous, and not helped by an abundance of cliched dialogue and hackneyed character beats. The inserts of personal demons feel like lukewarm echoes of stronger meat like EVENT HORIZON and FIRE IN THE SKY, though the glowing extra-terrestrial threat isn’t bad for this budget level.
Review by Steven West