The Fun Soaked Slime of "Kids vs. Aliens"
When space beings meet teens who like to wrestle. And cuss. A lot.
To this day, after eating a bowl of Cap’n Crunch Berries, I instantly recall Saturday Morning cartoons. Not really specific shows, but rather just the concept of sitting on a carpeted floor and staring up at a big box Television set while eating breakfast. That trope has been repeated so often in media, that it’s now mostly burrowed into the action of shoveling cereal into one’s mouth. Nostalgia triggers, they are.
Kids vs. Aliens, about ragtag kids and teens facing off with aliens on a 1990s-set Halloween night, plays like it’s an antithesis to nostalgia triggers. Sure, there are references to collective childhood experiences here and there, but everything flies around so fast that there’s barely any time to recall any one generic act from the past. This is a film about making new memories and developing new triggers.
Director Jason Eisener adapted this movie from his short V/H/S/2 segment Slumber Party Alien Abduction, which shares some of the same DNA. Some. Kids vs. Aliens is no unforgiving outing of relentless brutality and horror, but it is unrelenting in just how much fun it is to watch. Like with his previous feature Hobo with a Shotgun, Eisener brings in bright lights and big colors, but here he pulls out much-oozing sinew and slime. If malevolent cosmic beings were allowed to compete on Nickelodeon Guts, basically. Well, if you added the sinew and slime.
Pure escapism. The kids just want to make home movies and be left alone. The teens just want to party and be left alone. The aliens just… it’s unclear exactly what they want, other than human flesh, taken in ritualistic ways. All I know is that it’s up to big sister Samantha, played with spirit and a gung-ho attitude by Phoebe Rex, to save the kids, and it’s up to the kids to save the night, from the aliens and the super bully Billy, performed as a truly evil villain by Calem MacDonald. The kids here are a vulgar delight to behold, cussing and fighting their way through danger and near death at every turn, using fireworks, swords, and a wrestling ring to battle for their lives. Dammit, this is a hoot and a half.
Where Eisener cuts back from Hobo with a Shotgun’s blood, gore, and violent displays, and goes for a slightly lighter vision of Slumber Party Alien Abduction, he makes sure to amp things up with the music and the pace in Kids vs. Aliens. The beats go from electronic enthusiasm and wonder to heart-pounding anxiety and pure metal mayhem by the finale. A phenomenal array of brightness and sensory attack from every possible angle, visually and audibly.
I have no idea what this movie will trigger audiences to remember, or what action in years to come will trigger memories of this movie. I wouldn’t know that it takes place in the 1990s had it not been stated as such. I wouldn’t associate it with any collectively-had behavior, as the film is so specifically charged. It has kids. It has aliens. And they fight loudly. That’s it, and how wonderful is that? 4/5
Kids vs. Aliens streams and screens starting this Friday, January 20th.