The Area 51 Incident is something of a first. After films variously written, produced, directed and whatever else by Scott Jeffery, this marks his first appearance in front of the camera. He plays Trent who, along with another scientist, Jenny (Megan Purvis, Bats, The Mutation) is getting a chance to visit the top-secret facility at Area 51. Coincidentally Trent’s father Doug (Toby Wynn-Davies, The Ghosts of Borley Rectory, Nefarious) happens to be in charge of the facility.
Equally coincidentally it happens to be the day that activity on the rift the facility monitors peaks and opens a portal to an alien world. That allows a bloodthirsty alien race to come pouring through and invade Earth. The three of them promptly take off in Doug’s conveniently parked Mercedes leaving the base’s peons to be eaten. They even stop at one point so Doug can get out and watch.
At this point, one thing becomes obvious, despite being set in Area 51, The Area 51 Incident isn’t taking place in the Nevada desert, or even in the USA. The heavy characters’ British accents and uniforms were a clue but once we see the car’s license plates, left-hand drive steering and street signs there’s no denying it. Just set it in the UK and stop insulting everyone’s intelligence.
Eventually, the three of them end up in the same bunker we saw in Kingdom of the Dinosaurs. Also, as in that film, a small group heads out on a mission while the rest stay in the bunker. And one of the creatures gets in. It’s like Jeffrey gave a copy of his script to Tom Jolliffe (When Darkness Falls, Witches of Amityville Academy) and told him to do fast rewrite so they could reuse the sets.
For the most part, The Area 51 Incident works despite a couple of major lapses in logic. I found it extremely hard to believe, for example, that with everything going on the Sargent (Craig David Dowsett, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey) would send what few men he had out with Doug to find Jenny’s father (Andrew Rolfe, Beneath the Surface, Amityville Scarecrow). Especially after losing his shit over them letting unauthorized people into the bunker in the first place.
Thankfully director Rhys Frake-Waterfield (The Killing Tree, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey) does a much better job with The Area 51 Incident than his previous credits as an assistant director on Dinosaur Hotel as well as co-writing Dragon Fury and Spider in the Attic might lead one to expect. He manages to keep the proceedings interesting enough that these lapses don’t entirely derail the film. he gets a nice assist from cinematographer Vince Knight (The Tombs, Renegades) who helps bring out the sense of being trapped in the bunker’s narrow tunnels.
The Area 51 Incident would have been better overall if it had stayed in the bunker and exploited the claustrophobia and feeling of being trapped. The scenes outside during the rescue mission have their moments but aren’t as effective. Not to mention seeing working streetlights tends to contradict what we hear from the radio about widespread destruction.
The effects are the usual mixed bag of CGI that range from quite good to awful. The kaiju-sized creature that shows up for the final act looks fairly impressive, but a cartoonish-looking chestburster look-alike takes some of the edge off of what should have been much better scenes. Gore effects are pretty much non-existent with most of the deaths occurring off-screen.
The end result, while nothing special, is an agreeable enough way to kill ninety minutes. There’s enough going on to keep it from being dull and enough talent on display to get it past its rough spots. Uncork’d Entertainment will release The Area 51 Incident to DVD and Digital platforms on November 1st. If you want more alien invaders, FilmTagger can give you some suggestions.