Wednesday 26 April 2023

REVIEW: Kids vs. Aliens (2023) - Starring Dominic Mariche, Phoebe Rex, Calem MacDonald and Asher Grayson

Review by Jon Donnis
I had this film ready to review a while back, but as usual I never bothered to read the synopsis, so I assumed that this was some kids film, boy was I wrong. As soon as it starts I see that glorious Shudder logo, and damn I know this just has to be a horror film. But hey what do I know, maybe Shudder are suddenly going into the kids market?

The film starts off with some fishmen in the middle of the sea being attacked by what we can assume are aliens.

We then cross over to a group of older teenagers, Billy (Calem MacDonald), Dallas (Isaiah Fortune), and Trish (Emma Vickers), are searching for a place to host their Halloween party. They come across young friends Gary (Dominic Mariche), Jack (Asher Grayson), and Miles (Ben Tector) who are filming a homemade fantasy movie in a barn with Gary's older sister Samantha (Phoebe Rex). At this point you will get major Stranger Things vibes, except all the kids are normal and without any psychic powers, anyway, Billy and his friends start bullying the boys until Billy shows interest in Samantha. Samantha becomes enamored with Billy, but Gary breaks his arm during the filming, and Samantha's parents ground her for the incident. Moreover, Gary criticizes Samantha for giving up on her role in the movie to pursue an adult persona that may impress Billy.

Later, Billy visits Samantha and harasses her friends again, pretending to appreciate Samantha's interests to woo her into using the house for his party. They start making out on the bed, but the boys interrupt them. However, they dismiss a loud noise and lights outside as one of Gary's pranks. Billy convinces Samantha to host the party, during which Billy and his friends intentionally damage the house. Samantha tries to kick them out, and Billy becomes physically threatening with her.

Meanwhile, Gary, Jack, and Miles secretly spy on the party using a drone camera. They hijack the TV to broadcast a message calling out Samantha for changing her personality to appeal to Billy. Gary also shows footage of Billy making fun of Samantha to Trish before urinating all over her bedroom. Billy then beats up the boys in front of everyone, but suddenly alien creatures attack the partygoers. The aliens capture Gary, Jack, Miles, Billy, Dallas, and Trish, while Samantha barricades herself in her bedroom to avoid capture.

Pretty much the first half of the film is about older teens bullying younger kids, one of the younger kids older sister fancies the leader of the older gang, and then the second half of the film is about aliens trying to attack and kill everyone.

I know it all sounds rather random, and in some ways it is, but it is surprisingly well made and well filmed. Ok the aliens are a bit dodgy, basically people in alien suits, but the costumes and makeup effects are pretty decent. I don't think there is any CGI in this film, so it is filmed using old fashioned techniques which I appreciated.

Keep in mind this is a horror film, it has strong language, it has people dying, kids even, it has aliens in it, so do not let your young kids watch this.

Phoebe Rex as Samantha is your main character, and you will find yourself having an emotional investment in her as well as the young kids. You want them to come out on top. Sometimes in films like this you might find yourself cheering on the aliens or bad guys, but instead the young actors all do a great job to make you care about them. And the older bullies, yes you will want them to die.

The film is roughly 70minutes long, which is the absolute perfect run time for a horror film like this. There is even a nice twist and a cool post credits scene.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised, and rather impressed by the film, and now quite annoyed at myself for putting off watching it.

The Good
Perfect run time, nice little old fashioned horror film, all the actors do a great job, a fun and entertaining horror film, something that Shudder have become the absolute masters at making.

The Bad
Dare I say that the film should be a little longer? Main film is 68 minutes, plus a couple of minutes with the post credits scene. No, I am happy with the run time. So the only bad I can think of is that I would perhaps liked to have seen a bit more of the aliens, and perhaps learned a little about their motives.

Perfect run time, great acting all round, well filmed, a very impressive film considering the budget.

I score Kids vs. Aliens an impressive 8.5/10

Out now on Digital and on Prime at