Alien Raiders is my favourite kind of movie, it starts out looking like one thing and then becomes something else. Unfortunately, with the title “Alien Raiders” and the category Sci-Fi, it isn’t exactly a surprise when it switches from a robbery/hostage story to alien invasion story. Still, the film itself doesn’t hang around too long in the first genre so it isn’t much of a spoiler.
The direction that the story takes once the aliens are introduced is more interesting than the standard ordinary people stumbling across an alien invasion plot. I really liked the claustrophobic feel of the film with almost all of the action going on in one small supermarket and most of it in only a couple of small rooms.
Being a low budget film has really helped this one I think, a film with a higher budget would have looked too smooth and polished and therefore less believable. I say it is low budget, several other reviews have mentioned its low budget but I haven’t seen anywhere any evidence of how much it actually cost to shoot. Anyway, the gritty effect that often comes from not having much money to spend on props, sets, effects etc. really helps the believability of this movie.
After a brief introduction switching between some people loading weapons and driving in a van and normal shopping activities in the supermarket, a gang of armed people burst into the supermarket and take the staff and customers hostage. They start by telling everyone that they are robbing the store but quickly start killing off the shoppers and dividing the survivors into two groups seemingly arbitrarily. One of the gang is responsible for “clearing” people who can be released.
As events develop, the situation moves to a standard hostage situation with the shop surrounded by police negotiating with the gang while the people inside desperately try to find and eliminate the titular aliens. Slowly we learn some of the back story of the gang and the aliens and start to realise that, despite their gruff exterior and propensity for murder, the gun toting gang aren’t exactly the good guys but aren’t all bad either.
As the numbers of hostages and hostage takers starts to dwindle, the remnants of both groups start to bond and work together to eliminate the alien menace. At this point things start to follow the usual sci-fi action template with lots of fighting and shooting within the confines of the supermarket. The effects are a bit cheesy in places but generally well done and low tech enough to be gritty and believable if you don’t stare too hard at them. The overall effect is pretty enjoyable.
The only unfortunate thing is that the “twist” ending is pretty obvious and disappointingly contradicts what we have previously learnt about the aliens.