By David Dent
In Brandon Slagle’s sci-fi actioner, a crack SWAT team are on a mission to take down, but keep alive, notorious gang leader Miguel ‘Hades’ Aguirre (the impressively inked Robert LaSardo, an actor who seems to be a baddie in every movie he’s in).
They succeed – at some human cost; most of Miguel’s gang are killed and the bounder tries to escape by holding a little boy at knifepoint (a kid who has been drawing strange creatures he calls ‘Coo Cooi’). The team overpower him and ‘Hades’ is taken into custody in downtown LA.
But the amount of death threats given to the police means that Miguel must be removed to a more secure facility. The SWAT team are asked to transport him by van, but en route their vehicle loses power as a huge spacecraft appears over the city, sapping its power, and despatching human looking alien creatures with lethal tendrils that kill citizens indiscriminately and, seemingly, drain them of blood (the creatures are later referred to as ‘space vampires’).
Taking shelter in a nearby detention centre, still protecting their human bounty, the team batten down the hatches as the city around them is destroyed. Nominally headed by tough soldier Hannah (Jolene Andersen), the real guts behind the group is Vernon (straight to video kingpin Richard Grieco), who’s dealing with the double whammy of a recent divorce and a terminal cancer diagnosis.
As the centre faces assault by the warring aliens, Vernon learns that there’s a connection between the interstellar troublemakers and the legendary ‘Coo Cooi’ and the real reason they’re on earth in the first place.
‘Attack of the Unknown’ learns its lessons from numerous other indie sci fi efforts. A strong opening, the big set piece alien invasion sequence, and then the remainder of the movie focusing on a small group of people trapped in a tight space strategising to stay alive. But Slagle keeps things lively: there’s a minimum of walking around darkened corridors, and the aliens’ history – there’s even a flashback to an America of the 19th century – makes them more interesting than mere scaly invaders with ray guns. And even if they are just men in suits, those suits are impressive.
Grieco is watchable as the grumpy (with good reason) Vernon and his rather existential approach to alien warfare makes a change from gung -ho chisel jawed heroes. The camera wisely doesn’t linger on the special effects, which makes them more, er, specially effective.
Sure ‘Attack of the Unknown’ is pretty low budget, but it looks good, doesn’t over reach itself and Slagle delivers a solid sci-fi flick.
Watch the trailer for Attack of the Unknown below –