INVASION EARTH

1.5 out of 10

Release Date: 3rd October 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: James Twyman aka Steve M Smith (Haunted 5 / Haunted 4 / Haunted 3 / Haunted 2 / Borstal / I Am Hooligan / Essex Boys – Law of Survival / Hooligans At War / Haunted (2013))

Cast: Darren James King, David Shaw, Jonathan Jules, Nigel Thijs, Charlotte Gould, Phoebe Delikoura, Colette Hughes, Sammy Johnston, Cameron Bell, Tony Fadil and Jon-Paul Gates

Writer: James Twyman and Steve M Smith

Trailer:INVASION EARTH

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AKAAlan Bennett and the day my alien mother-in-law came to tea’. This cheap quickie from hack Steve M Smith (directing under the alias James Twyman) is a ridiculous attempt to turn a good intentioned but over-simplistic Ken Loach-style drama about troubled teens into an Independence Day also-ran.  Set on the same farm as the gun runner from Essex Boys – Laws of Survival, several teens are rounded up to be cured by celebrity chav-whisperer, Alan Bennett (DAVID SHAW). The kids are made up of a trouble pop star, a friendly black guy, a footballer, a transgender wannabe, a nympho and a Nazi (a few others). Most of the teens are just about capable of learning their lines but they ae largely awful. Only Darren James King (BORSTAL) shows any signs of talent, shame he’s stuck with the Nazi role and stuck in a Steve M Smith movie. Alan Bennett is under pressure to give an interview to an asshole presenter played with over the top lunacy by 10p budget film fave Jon-Paul Gates (HAUNTED 2). His role relieves the tedium spent with the teens but not in a good way. When the aliens finally show up again, after an abysmal prelude where some scientists get zapped with pink lightning.

The aliens themselves are crap. They are basically extras in cat suits and motorcycle helmets who carry pink death torches… Actually the whole alien invasion thread seems bookended onto the corny middle bit about teenagers getting to know themselves. If the aliens had arrived earlier, or one of the dims had spotted the pink death rays then it may have got more generic earlier. However, it doesn’t and we’re left to ponder why such lo-rent aliens would bother possessing such a dull bunch. The dialogue is cod-Grange Hill, with all the emo-twats joining into some lame love-in, whilst Alan Bennett begins to say ‘Fuck’ a lot before trying to rescue everyone.

The director needs to be commended for coming up with a new idea besides Essex gangsters or football hooligans. Shame its all turned out to be a  Poundland version of Independence Day 2 full of wet acting wannabes and  whatever Jon-Paul Gates is.

1.5 out of 10 – Better titles would have been Invasion Essex  or Close encounters of the turd kind.

Another official Britpic review by Matt ‘The Flusher’ Usher down below.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “INVASION EARTH

  1. Review by Matt Usher

    First they came for the conspiracy theorists. Then they came for the misfits. And then they came for the troubled celebrities. That’s the pattern for the alien invasion (when/if it comes (the sooner the better if you ask me)) according to the deluded yet ambitious minds behind INVASION EARTH. This no-budget film endeavours to imagine our first contact with aliens able to crush us with their intergalactic might. Has the phrase ‘bitten off more than you can chew’ ever been more apt? To their credit the film-makers realised that depicting the alien subjugation of Earth may be beyond their means, and so this peculiar film focuses on the events which lead to the first contact. You might imagine this would involve scientists, the military, X Files types, geeks, investigators, religious maniacs and even some ordinary people. If so then you have failed to put yourself into the shoes of writer/director/etc James Twyman who has his finger on the pulse of 2016 and knows that the only way to tell any story, even one depicting the first belligerent alien incursion, is through the prism of the celebrity sob story. And so our tale is set in a rehab centre in the middle of nowhere.

    After a prologue in which two UFO spotters (a) spot a UFO invasion and (b) get killed by it, we focus on a bleak coastal outcrop. Here, maverick celebrity rehabilitator Doctor Carson has set up a celebrity rehabilitation centre which looks remarkably like a long-abandoned youth hostel. Here he uses controversial techniques (apparently) to set straying celebs back on the straight and narrow. We join him on the first day of the new venture as the first coachload of drunks and druggies arrive to be cleansed. At first glance they seem to be merely bored teenagers, but as we meet them (at tedious length) we discover that they are meant to be people caught in the media’s unstinting glare and have cracked under the pressure. They are a diverse bunch; diverse in the sense that each has a different trauma to exorcise. So we have a racist, a footballer who can’t play anymore for some reason, a sex addict, a drug addict who used to be a pop star till the music business (in the shape of disreputable reality game show ‘Talent Factor’) chewed her up and spat her out, and a black man who is only there so the racist can be nasty and therefore face and defeat his own demons. Perhaps the most surprising element of the film (well, the only surprising element) is that one of the inmates is a young man who wants to be a young woman; this is presented straightforwardly, empathetically and without smirking, which is refreshing. Unfortunately it’s not interestingly done, but you can’t have everything. There are other troubled teens/celebs but I’m losing the will.

    Dr Carson begins treating them with his unorthodox methods which are best described as ‘how psychologists in bad TV shows and films in the seventies did it’. Unfortunately for the weary viewer impatiently awaiting the arrival of the little green men, the film-makers seem to think they’ve devised a character and methodology which can actually cure these various ailments, and so we watch each session in painstaking, gruelling detail. This may have been interesting in a film about psychologists and counsellors which had been made using real research. But instead we have interminable cod-psychology. Things aren’t helped by the actors. They display a certain commitment to the cause I suppose, but few of them shine. David Shaw plays our miracle doctor. He appears to be impersonating former prime minister Harold Wilson vocally (an interesting choice I admit) and has the demeanour of Mole from The Wind in the Willows. Imagine Alan Bennett taking a role intended for Robert de Niro. The remainder of the cast (with one exception) veer between unexceptional and not great, but no-one disgraces themselves, they’re just not good enough to lift material made of lead. The exception is Jon-Paul Gates, who plays a vindictive TV presenter determined to expose the doctor as a charlatan. Mr Gates has surely been told to play the role as an amalgam of Piers Morgan, the Jeremys (Clarkson, Kyle, Paxman) and their unwholesome ilk. Alas Mr Gates’ performance suggests he has never seen any of them in action. Instead it’s as if he’s auditioning for Rentaghost, again, without having any idea what Rentaghost is. Fortunately he’s soon munched by aliens.

    So, the aliens. Periodically, a purple light shines at soon-to-be-deceased characters, but the aliens, like slasher-style-serial-killers, have a knack of killing the people least likely to be missed first. Eventually they reveal themselves whilst one celeb is undergoing cold turkey and the sex addict is proving that her recovery has suffered a setback. But as the aliens slaughter the cast, that’s the least of her worries. The aliens (actually I think there’s just one) certainly look alien. Not unlike the Voord from a 1964 Doctor Who story.

    I have a theory that (as with HAUNTED, a film from the same stable) the actors were unaware they were in an alien invasion film. I think they were given scripts for an earnest angst drama and were only told ‘and then you get eviscerated by aliens’ on the last day of shooting. Or maybe the film-makers got really confused in the tone meeting: maybe someone said ‘it’s like the X Files’ but everyone heard ‘it’s like the X Factor’. I can imagine the punch-ups behind the camera, the writer yelling ‘this is a serious film about addiction!’ and the producer chomping his cigar, saying ‘yeah, with aliens! For the kids!’ and the director telling them to shut up as he’s busy filming a scene where someone unfolds their innermost fears before being zapped by the purple light and the man in the rubber suit. Whatever the truth (and the truth is still out there), this is a profoundly weird film, simultaneously dull, baffling, earnest, loopy and hopeless.

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