Some movies you just know what to expect from the title. You may think that Kids Vs Aliens falls into that category and you would be wrong…at least partly. Jason Eisner, who made headlines with the awesomely fun grindhouse flick Hobo With A Shotgun directs this film which is both exactly what you expect and then so much more. Let’s get it out of the way right at the jump, this isn’t an Amblin style fun family adventure. This is kids fighting off a race of aliens that want to (and at times succeed in) using human skin to power their ship.
If that plot sounds familiar then you, my friend, have excellent taste and have watched V/H/S 2. Kids Vs Aliens is actually based off of one of the shorts included in that anthology, title ‘Slumber Party Alien Abduction’. This full length version sees amateur auteur Gary and his older sister Samantha left home alone on Halloween weekend. Samantha, under the influence of popularity and Handsome McPopular classmate Billy (because of course his name is Billy), decides to throw a party which Gary is not onboard with…he just wants to shoot home movies with his friends. As you’re probably guessing, the house party is crashed by Alien invaders intent on harvesting their human fuel from the rowdy group of teens and pre-teens.
I just want to say this loudly and proudly, I love the balls on Jason Eisner. Here’s a guy that knows what kind of films he wants to make and damn the world if they don’t like it. I went into Kids V Aliens expecting something I would normally put on during family movie night with the kids…thank God I didn’t do that. Eisner decided that having kids as your protagonist’s does not require it to be a kid friendly movie. If you’re familiar with last year’s PG: Psycho Goreman you can use that as a barometer for what we’re talking about (if you’re not familiar with it, fix that, it’s a great movie!). These kids are as vulgar as real kids when their parents aren’t around and when the spaceship doors open the gore effects are not spared for a second. This is where Eisner really shines, his dedication to practical effects. I saw a number of comparisons to Troma films, but that’s a disservice to Eisner these effects look perfectly over the top and don’t delve into parody.
Now, the trade off is that the film won’t be considered high art by anyone watching. The story itself leaves a lot to be desired, mostly in depth of story and lore. The performances are all surprisingly good for a fleet of child actors, but the material they were given is as surface level as the plot itself. Billy, for example, is straight out of the William Zabka school of 80s bad boy acting. There’s no nuance, no surprises, what you see is what you get. Is this a bad thing? I’m sure alot of folks would say so, but in my opinion this is the kind of film that only needs to get it’s core tenants right in order to be enjoyable, and Eisner and co nailed that.
While not for everyone Kids Vs Aliens is sure to make it’s niche audience happy during it’s short 73 minute runtime. There is just something special about seeing aliens, sometimes in Halloween costumes chasing down kids in the woods. I said earlier this wasn’t an Amblin style film, while that was an accurate statement in it’s age appropriateness they did manage to capture the most important thing about Amblin, that sense of wonder and imagination that’s only held by kids. If you can watch this flick and NOT imagine your 12 year old self on this adventure then you need to let some more light in your life.
KIDS VS ALIENS Playing In Theaters, On Demand, and Digital January 20, 2023
Written by John Davies & Jason Eisener
Directed by Jason Eisener
All Gary wants is to make awesome home movies with his best buds. All his older sister Samantha wants is to hang with the cool kids. When their parents head out of town one Halloween weekend, an all-time rager of a teen house party turns to terror when aliens attack, forcing the siblings to band together to survive the night.