Long a source of conspiracy theories and modern-day folklore Area 51 has proved a popular setting for films ranging from blockbusters like INDEPENDENCE DAY to lower-budgeted efforts like, well, AREA 51. Writer/director Kelly Schwarze (TERRITORY 8, ABIGAIL HAUNTING) brings us back there with ALIEN DOMICILE, a film whose title and artwork want us to think of a certain franchise. But what it delivers is something considerably different.
The film’s opening minutes see Master Sergeant Ryan Pierce (Michael Tushaus) and his elite team runs into something that makes short work of them. We then cut to a small group of people waking up in a barren room with no idea of how they got there.
There’s Russell (Michael Monteiro), who’s just waiting for his retirement; Hanna (Elly Brown), a security auditor, Dimitri (Eduard Osipov) a Russian. And then there’s Gail (Sabrina Cofield), a special forces type. They need to find out what’s going on and get out. The creatures aren’t their only problem, however. Bizarre hallucinations and false memories disorient them and frequently set them against each other.
The title and artwork desperately want you to think this is part of the ALIEN franchise. But in both plot and budget, it’s far removed from those films. Shot for a reported $85,000, ALIEN DOMICILE got the maximum value out of their budget. The aliens look convincing when we finally see them, the infrequent bursts of gore and effects are also quite convincing.
The film was obviously shot in a large warehouse of some kind. But the lighting and cinematography make it a lot more creepy than it has a right to be. There are also nice touches like one character’s obvious physical similarity to Gordon Freeman, who fought aliens in a Nevada research facility in the classic game Half-Life.
Unfortunately, the script really lets the film down. There are just too many loose ends and questions left unanswered. You’ll frequently be scratching your head and rewinding to see if you missed something. We’re never really sure just why any of this is happening. It opens with a quote from Darwin and Dimitri says something about a need to evolve. But why the captured aliens are running loose in the first place isn’t explained. The ending is also confusing as hell. I think I figured it out, but the way it’s presented is way too confusing.
ALIEN DOMICILE wants to play with the ideas of what is real and what isn’t to help build suspense and keep you guessing. But it goes too deep into them and leaves the viewer no real way to tell what is actually happening. A second viewing might help that, but it’s really not good enough to warrant that. And in case you’re wondering, there is no connection between this and ALIEN DOMICILE 2: LOT 24 beyond distributor ITN.
ALIEN DOMICILE is available on DVD and VOD from ITN Distribution.