Invasion Earth: An Alien Flick with Heart

Invasion Earth follows eight young people at a secluded rehab center who are forced to deal with a foe that is not of this world. Their stories may be different but they are all on a journey of self improvement. When an alien invasion begins on their little island, they must put aside their inner demons to survive.

If you listen to either one of the podcasts or have talked to me for more than about an hour, you know I love aliens. From exopolitical conspiracies to UFO sightings, I am all about it. The thing is, I haven’t seen many alien movies that I really liked. Check the latest episode of The Horror Basement for my thoughts on The Fourth Kind. So, I didn’t have high expectations going into this flick. It also mentioned that the main cast would be addicts in rehab. This lowered my expectations further. Nothing boils my piss more than a misrepresentation of addicts and addiction in a movie.

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With all that being said, let’s dig into this movie.

The Plot

The plot of Invasion Earth is a pretty simple one. A group of damaged people, a doctor, and an ex-special forces security guard are on a secluded farm. They work and live together as they work through their individual issues. During this months-long program, and alien invasion kicks off on their little slice of Heaven. They have to do what they can to survive the extraterrestrial threat.

It’s simple but it works. There’s nobody who has advanced knowledge of aliens or their invasion tactics. It’s basically just a bunch of normal people having their perception of reality shattered. You don’t get bogged down with military jargon or government officials being well-dressed douche canoes. We get  a straight-forward hostile alien encounter. It doesn’t hurt that it’s executed really well, either.

A Little Deeper

Invasion Earth has a lot of heart. It’s almost two hours long and a good chunk of the first hour is dedicated to character development. While this is happening, there are some frank and candid conversations about things like race, gender, slut shaming, trauma, and addiction. It’s all done rather naturally and doesn’t beat you over the head with progressive talking points. You are just given a look at some pretty big issues through a small and personal lens. It never feels forced or heavy handed.

Each person has a reason for their issues. Most of them are dealing with some kind of trauma or deep-seated issue in some unhealthy ways. By the time the shit hits the fan, you feel like you know most of the characters really well. Because of their issues and coping mechanisms, I got attached to a few of them. In short, the writing is very effective.

How Does It Look?

On the last episode of The Horror Basement, I talked about how I would rather see someone with some know-how and passion shooting on a potato than someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing shooting on multi-million dollar equipment with a huge budget. Invasion Earth is a great example of this. You can see that this is a low budget film but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look good. The cinematography in this flick is solid. In fact, there are some downright beautiful shots. If you watch the trailer, you’ll see a shot of two characters silhouetted on a beach. This is part of a fairly long scene and emotional scene. It’s gorgeous and fits the scene perfectly.  Also, the final shot in the movie is fucking spectacular.

The effects are a bit of a different story, though. I’m not saying they’re bad. They’re really not. I’ve seen worse in movies with bigger budgets, and bigger names. (Lookin’ at you, 3 from Hell). They just aren’t the best part of the film.  Some of the wounds could have been better and there’s an exploding head that was a little bit of a letdown; mostly because you don’t get to see the head explode. On the other hand, the aliens look pretty decent, the ship is cool when you see it, too. Mostly though, you see fog and  purple lights. I’m  not gonna lie, I love the purple lights. It’s an eerie effect that communicates the threat really well. I’m sure there will be a day when I’m tired of purple alien lights. Today is not that day.

Technically Speaking

There is a major technical fuck up in the third act of this movie. Hopefully, they’ll catch it and take it out before it goes to VOD but it was so glaring that I have to mention it. There’s a sequence that repeats completely but it’s a hair different the second time. Then the last bit of it repeats once after the second run through. It looks like there were two takes of the sequence loaded up and the editor just forgot to chop one of them. Shit happens, mistakes get made. I get it. Did it take me out of the movie for a second? Sure. Did it make me think I was slipping into an infinite time loop as a result of my own past substance abuse? A little. Did it make me enjoy this movie any less? Fuck no.

All in All…

All in all, would I recommend this movie? Absolutely. If you’re into aliens and aren’t a complete snob about movies, this one is worth checking out. Sure, Invasion Earth has its flaws. I think it makes up for all of those flaws with great writing, solid acting, and a lot of heart. You laser guns and explosions and full on aliens but you also get quiet emotional moments. I loved this movie and there’s a chance you will too.

Invasion Earth will be available on DVD and VOD August 4th via Midnight Releasing.

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