Review: Alien Outpost

It splits its time evenly between half-heartedly pretending it’s an allegory for our war on terror and pretending that it’s not.

Alien Outpost
Photo: IFC Midnight

The very brief glimpse director Jabbar Raisani gives audiences of a full-throttle alien invasion of Earth in 2021 suggests that resistance from our outmoded Earthling armed forces was probably futile. But, one year later, we somehow managed to stave off the aliens and their laser beams—except for a few “Heavies” stranded behind, lurking somewhere on the periphery of a defense outpost (pointedly located in Iran) for reasons unknown. It’s now 2023 and we’re still “fighting a war the world has chosen to forget.” From there, Alien Outpost splits its time evenly between half-heartedly pretending it’s an allegory for our current war on terror and pretending that it’s not. The film structures itself as a documentary about soldiers on the front, and given how little the documentarians within the film prod their subjects to elaborate on the fog of war, Alien Outpost comes to resemble a crude, but convincing, facsimile of Restrepo and Korengal. But the revelation—made via the film’s excessive use of title cards—that the animosity Arabs used to harbor for Americans is effectively restored in the absence of a common extraterrestrial threat should be too salient for the soldiers not to address. That they don’t suggests that the filmmakers condescendingly view these men as being incapable of big-picture philosophizing, but the truth, that the soldiers’ indifference exists only to keep the lid on the nuances of a second alien attack, is more insulting. And not just for the lack of shock and anger that informs the soldiers’ response to the aliens’ subterfuge, but for how the climax is staged with all of the visual sophistication of a Babylon 5 episode.

Score: 
 Cast: Adrian Paul, Reiley McClendon, Douglas Tait, Darron Meyer, Rick Ravanello, Andy Davoli, Joe Reegan, Sven Ruygrok, Matthew Holmes  Director: Jabbar Raisani  Screenwriter: Blake Clifton, Jabbar Raisani  Distributor: IFC Midnight  Running Time: 92 min  Rating: R  Year: 2014  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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