“Children Vs. Aliens” comes to theaters and VOD unrated. However had the movie’s producers gone by means of the (largely pointless within the streaming period) technique of submitting it to the MPAA, the second function from director Jason Eisener would be part of a proud custom: That of the R-rated youngsters’ film. Consider the “Youngster’s Play” franchise. Consider Full Moon Options. Consider something that has the manic vitality and vibrant patina of a film for kids, however with swearing and violence.
All these movies generally enchantment to overgrown youngsters, which isn’t an insult—indulging the kid inside might be psychologically wholesome (moderately, in fact). They usually should be a variety of enjoyable for youths who act in them, too: Think about being ten years outdated and having a bunch of adults telling you that not solely is it okay, however that’s it’s your job to yell, “F**ok house!” whereas setting off fireworks. That sort of pleasure is infectious. And certainly, “Children Vs. Aliens” is a full of life—if at occasions headache-inducing—expertise.
This was clearly a DIY manufacturing, and many of the movie’s funds appears to have gone in direction of making it as colourful as attainable. It’s cash effectively spent, because the in-your-face aesthetic at the very least partially compensates for the skinny plot and cardboard characters. (The dialogue is crude as effectively, however that matches the general tone, so it’s not as massive of a deal.) Clocking in at 75 minutes, “Children Vs. Aliens” feels extra like a pilot episode than it does a completely realized function movie, not least because there’s extra plot implied within the final 30 seconds than really unfolds within the first half-hour.
That first half-hour is spent establishing the characters, particularly rambunctious preteen Gary (Dominic Mariche) and his teenage sister Samantha (Phoebe Rex), who—in one other grand genre-movie custom—are left unsupervised almost the entire time by their workaholic dad and mom. Technically, Samantha is in cost. However she’s a giant child herself, with pursuits that embrace cool swords and professional wrestling. And she or he enthusiastically participates within the motion pictures that Gary and his friends Jack (Asher Grayson Percival) and Miles (Ben Tector) are at all times cooking up in a barn on Gary and Samantha’s household property. That’s, till brooding unhealthy boy Billy (Calem MacDonald) comes alongside.
“Children Vs. Aliens” takes a childlike view of Samantha’s subsequent flip into teen angst; on this film’s thoughts, rising up means smoking cigarettes, sporting a number of eye make-up, and abandoning your true buddies and pursuits. The ethical dimensions of the plot are simplistic as effectively: Billy is an unequivocal villain—the entire teenagers on this film apart from Samantha are sociopaths, really—and the film displays Gary’s damage emotions about what he sees as his sister’s betrayal. She does get an opportunity to redeem herself, nevertheless, when the aliens belatedly present up midway by means of the film.
The extraterrestrial menace has a Halloween-retailer aesthetic, which is okay as a result of this film by no means claims realism throughout its runtime. The gore, when it does ramp up, performs like Fulci in fast-forward, melting our bodies into piles of orange and yellow goop like neon Alka-Seltzers. (A few youngsters additionally get slimed, a enjoyable nod from this Canadian manufacturing to the long-lasting Canadian collection “You Can’t Do That on Tv.”) At this level, all of the yelling and strobe lights begin to make sense. Earlier than, they felt extra like a toy truck with flashing lights and sound—once more, nice for youths, however greatest in small doses for anybody sufficiently old to drive.
“Children Vs. Aliens” is Eisener’s first full-length movie since “Hobo with a Shotgun” in 2011. And the distinction in tone between the 2 movies exhibits how a lot has modified in popular culture since then. “Hobo with a Shotgun” was a part of the “neo-grindhouse” motion that got here alongside within the wake of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s “Grindhouse” in 2007, a cynical and infrequently mean-spirited wave of movies that took puerile pleasure in pushing the boundaries of intercourse and violence on display screen. Consistent with our present “poptimistic” age, “Children Vs. Aliens” retains the aggressive neon splatter, however loses the cynicism—a selection that, for all of the F-bombs and faux blood, makes it a surprisingly pure movie.