Film Review: ALIEN HUNTER (2016)

Film Review: ALIEN HUNTER (2016)

May 23, 2017

IMDb: Alien Hunter [aka Welcome to Willits] (2016)
Director: Trevor Ryan
Stars: Bill Sage, Chris Zylka, Anastasia Baranova

Many feature films start out as shorts and get expanded to feature length after a positive reception. Some far surpass the original while others prove that a good idea for a short might not not be suited for feature length. And in some cases it can be hard to tell, a case such as ALIEN HUNTER. Shot as WELCOME TO WILLITS and expanded from the short WELCOME TO WILLITS: AFTER DARK.

Brock (Bill Sage FENDER BENDER, AMERICAN PSYCHO) is a pot farmer with a side job cooking meth. He frequently has either flashbacks or hallucinations involving being abducted by aliens who he fears are coming back for him. His wife Peggy (Sabina Gadecki DARK WAS THE NIGHT) believes him and does her best to comfort him, all of which is a surprise to Brock’s niece Courtney (Anastasia Baranova Z NATION). When a group of teens ignore a store clerk’s warning about missing people and possible Sasquatch activity and stumble across Brock’s grow op things quickly get bloody.

If the film had kept it’s original title and artwork it would have been much easier to evaluate it. But by changing the title and giving Dolph Lundgren more prominent billing, (he has what amounts to a glorified cameo along with former WWE wrestler Shad Gaspard as characters in a cop show, segments of which play a role in the film’s events), it sets you up to expect sci-fi action along the lines of the classic I COME IN PEACE/DARK ANGEL. What you get is something quite different, which left me initially disappointed. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it actually was a good film, though much darker and funnier than what I was expecting.

There’s a fair amount of suspense along with the dark humor, backed up with some surprisingly good alien effects and gore. And I didn’t feel cheated by the ending, something I’ve been feeling with a lot of films lately.  Director Trevor Ryan and writer Tim Ryan, (yes they’re brothers) have put together a nice little package that’s been somewhat sabotaged by it’s marketing. If you go into it with no plot expectations, you should find ALIEN HUNTER a lot of fun.

Trailer

The original short is available below, but I’d suggest watching it afterwards, as it gives the feature’s twist away: