Review: Attack of the Unknown (2020)
I’ve seen two previous films from Michael and Sonny Mahal’s company, Mahal Empire, Art of the Dead, and Bus Party to Hell. Both were enjoyable horror films directed by Rolfe Kanefsky. For their latest, Attack of the Unknown, they’ve changed things up and delivered an alien invasion film written and directed by Brandon Slagle (Crossbreed, The Dawn). Was it a change for the better, or should they have stayed with what they knew?
A SWAT team led by Vernon (Richard Grieco, Clinton Road, Impact Event) has just made an important bust, Miguel ‘Hades’ Aguirre (Robert LaSardo, Damon’s Revenge, Blood Circus). But getting him to jail is going to be rough. Not because of his goons, but because aliens have invaded.
They’re forced to take refuge in a county jail, teaming up with the local police to try and stay alive. But what starts as an extraterrestrial Assault on Precinct 13 is soon going to take on much bigger stakes. And the key to Earth’s survival may come from an unlikely source.
Attack of the Unknown gets off to a slow start. The initial police raid is followed by a seemingly endless dialogue about how shitty Vernon’s life is. But at least Grieco’s character is an actual part of the plot, not a cameo for once. Tara Reid (Sharknado, Andy the Talking Hedgehog) however is once again just on-screen for a couple of minutes. And there’s a trip to a strip club to liven things up a bit.
The alien ship is impressive when it turns up. Though an otherwise well-done scene of the alien craft blowing holes in the LA skyline loses its impact when you see the traffic cruising by on the freeway like nothing was happening. But just as the film seems to be picking up we get another half hour of talk before the aliens attack the building.
Once the invaders finally get serious about attacking the police station Attack of the Unknown does become enjoyable. The aliens look like something out of a 50s film. And I mean that in the best sense of the term. There are some gooey effects and we even get a bit of action inside the alien craft itself as Vernon and Hannah (Jolene Andersen, Hellraiser: Revelations, Resident Evil: Damnation) fight the aliens on their own turf.
But there’s no need for this film to run for an hour and forty minutes. At least twenty minutes of dialogue could have been cut and the film would have moved a lot faster. I get that films like Attack of the Unknown don’t always have the budget for wall-to-wall action. But there are plenty of production values on display here, there was no need to pad it out with so much unneeded talk.
Attack of the Unknown is worth the watch, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for hitting fast forward a few times at the start. Gravitas Ventures will release it on August 28th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for updates.