There has been some kind of national emergency. Dead bodies litter the streets. Planes are dropping out of the sky. David wants to get back to his wife but all the routes are blocked, so he ignores a traffic patrolman's warning and swerves through the barrier anyway. He finds himself driving through an eerie no-mans-land, trying to piece together what is happening, listening to the last phone message his wife left - "there's someone in our house, don't go home."
A man walks like a zombie along the side of the road; a young woman suddenly appears in David’s headlights and inexplicably hurls a pail-full of water across the windshield of his car. David is flagged down by a small group of survivors, one or two are wounded, but before he can find out what’s going on, electric blue lights zip through the trees like sniper-fire and the survivors are cut down. David hides in a tree with Samantha, whose own husband was killed at the top of the story. Beneath them, dark humanoid figures are hunting. Above them, sinister alien craft scour the landscape with powerful white light.
David and Samantha manage to escape (luckily the alien drone that goes looking for them doesn’t think to check around corners) and they immediately bond over the mess both of them have made of their marriages (as you would, when you meet a stranger during a post-apocalyptic alien invasion). Meanwhile, David’s colleague Ryan is drunkenly phoning David’s wife to bitch about the state of his own life, although he manages to rescue a little girl he finds on the street. David’s wife has problems of her own – their dog is sick and a family friend has just declared his undying love for her, before striding manfully off into the wilderness.
But the aliens, with their barely glimpsed reptilian faces and their leatherette cone head helmets, are seemingly destroying everything in sight. Will David and Samantha reach the evacuation point in time? Will David ever find his wife? Why does the hillbilly with the shotgun think he can hold off an ET with a laser blaster? And what does the water supply have to do with any of this?
First the good news: Alienate features some sparing but nice-looking UFO effects with a brief but very well done daylight battle scene. And, as alien invasion movies go, it’s nowhere near as bad as Signs.
But the bad news? Despite the best efforts of Blake Webb (as David) and Jaclyn Hales (as Samantha), the characterisations are flimsy and clichéd, the story is nonsensical and tensionless, and – ultimately – Alienate is just another tedious, cynical exercise in nano-budget sci-fi filmmaking, with an ending that’s supposed to be brave and emotionally engaging but just falls flat on its face like a stupefied facehugger.
ALIENATE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: MICHAEL SHUMWAY / SCREENPLAY: RICK HANSBERRY, LEX HOGAN / STARRING: BLAKE WEBB, JACLYN HALES, TATUM LANGTON / RELEASE DATE: 22ND FEBRUARY