Kids vs. Aliens
Canadian 1980s throwback is more Amblin than ambling.
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Canadian writer/producer/editor/director Jason Eisener has taken his “V/H/S/2” segment “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” and stretched it to barely feature length with the 75-minute “Kids vs. Aliens” (available in select theaters and on VOD beginning Friday, Jan. 20 before eventually streaming on Shudder). I often complain that many features would play better as shorts, but “KvA” is actually better than “SPAA.” It’s far more Amblin than ambling … only its titular tykes talk in Tarantino-speak … minus all the racial slurs.
Gary (Dominic Mariche), his older sister Samantha (Phoebe Rex) and his pals Jack (Asher Grayson Percival) and Miles (Ben Tector) while their days away filming a fantastical flick under Gary’s direction. One fateful day bad boy Billy (Calem MacDonald) and his friends Trish (Emma Vickers) and Dallas (Isaiah Fortune) crash the kids’ clubhouse in order to bully the burgeoning filmmakers. Billy puts a stop to the bullying as he’s taken a shine to Samantha and she to him. Samantha no longer has any want or need make movies with Gary and his buddies … her thoughts and time are busied by Billy.
Dejected, Gary continues filming with his friends … only without Samantha’s supervision he breaks his arm performing a ladder-based wrestling maneuver. Their Mom (Jessica Marie Brown) and Dad (Jonathan Torrens) blame Samantha for Gary’s injury and promptly ground her before leaving town on business.
No parents? No problem! Billy talks the reluctant Samantha into throwing a Halloween shindig at her folks’ digs … only there are uninvited guests of the extraterrestrial variety … and they’re prone to violence.
If you’ve seen Eisener’s “Hobo with a Shotgun” or his Viceland documentary series “Dark Side of the Ring,” the way “KvA” plays out will come as no surprise to you. The dude’s embracing his passions and this enthusiasm is contagious. Mileage may vary if you’re intolerant of foul-mouthed moppets or gooey goriness, but these elements definitely elevated the material to me and my immature self.
Honestly, I greatly preferred “KvA” to “HwaS” (a movie I by no means hated and even enjoyed in spite of its inherent ickiness) – it’s much softer and sweeter due to the sibling chemistry established by Mariche and Rex and solidly supported through the platonic parts embodied by Percival and Tector. “KvA” is still plenty edgy however – MacDonald’s Billy is so deplorably douche-y he feels like a “HwaS” refugee.
“KvA” reminds me a lot of Steven Kostanski’s “Psycho Goreman” from a few years back as they’re both Canadian productions, throwbacks to the 1980s and prominently feature practical effects, synth scores and cute kids breaking bad. It doesn’t quite hit the heights of “PG,” but it ain’t far off. The conclusion wasn’t my favorite, but it leaves itself wide open for a sequel to which I’m totally receptive.