NEW YORK, Oct. 8 (UPI) — Kids vs. Aliens, screened at Beyond Fest on Saturday, is an homage to 1980s youth-friendly sci-fi blockbusters. The only difference is that Youngsters vs. Aliens is as gory as all the other ’80s horror films, so it’s a flashback for fans of both genres or perhaps kids who never really grew up.
Samantha (Phoebe Rex) is always tasked with caring for her brother Gary (Dominic Mariche) and his buddies. They produce movies together, using extravagant costumes and props.
Samantha changes her concentration to dressing up and looking good for Billy (Calem MacDonald) when he initiates eye contact with her. But Billy is merely using Samantha to hold a party at her house while her parents are away, leaving her to babysit again.
Even before the appearance of the aliens promised in the title, writer/director Jason Eisener conveys the impression that these kids are in it together. Samantha and Gary’s parents are uninterested in their children’s lives and take Samantha for granted as their live-in babysitter.
Samantha has a touching storyline, wanting to pursue a guy’s attention, even though Billy acts like a normal sulky teenager around everyone else. At the party, she discovers who he truly is for herself.
The party quickly escalates to the point where Billy gets so threatened that Gary and Samantha are trapped in their home with this terrorist and his legion. And everyone at the party is naturally preoccupied by the actual aliens who have now begun to roam the premises.
Samantha becomes the true hero when the aliens arrive. Her abilities in her family’s films, as well as the responsibility that has already been imposed upon her at a young age, pay off while she is battling for her life and the lives of others.
Mariche and the children who play Gary’s friends (Asher Grayson and Ben Tector) are excellent. They embrace the clumsiness of that age and the autonomy and individuality that young children are rarely credited with.
The aliens are unrelenting. They never stop coming. More are coming out of the ship whatever method the youngsters use to escape.
The aliens are dressed in fantastic clothes that could easily adorn the cover of Fangoria Magazine. It’s disgusting and slimy when the aliens kill people.
Though the degree of violence warrants an R-rating, it is absurd enough that it is unlikely to scare children. Kids vs. Aliens has such a homey vibe that it feels more like a movie that kids would want to produce than one that would scare them, while having the resources of more industry veterans applying their infantile style.
In Eisener’s previous film, Hobo with a Shotgun was an extreme action film featuring ruthless violence. In Kids vs. Aliens, he takes his style to a more family-friendly adventure without holding back.
Kids vs. Aliens will be released in 2023 by RLJE Entertainment. Following that will be a Shudder streaming release.