Review: ‘Alien Addiction’ (thank you for smoking)

Willful waste makes alien want. 

Small-town native Riko (Jimi Jackson) enjoys a carefree life with his friends in the middle of nowhere, specifically Waikato, New Zealand. His tranquil but uneventful life is upended when he encounters a pair of crash-landed aliens in the woods nearby… both with a peculiar fondness for “sampling the local fare.” After an intergalactic relationship forms through a montage of adventures, it falls to Riko to keep his new friends safe from pseudo-scientist blogger Peter Macintosh (Thomas Sainsbury) and his slightly less-evil henchman Saleem (Ayham Ghalayini) to avoid capture and subsequent autopsy… and wackiness ensues.

At first glance, the description sounds like a re-imagining of Simon Pegg and Seth Rogan’s Paul, about comic book geeks helping an toking escaped alien escaped from Area 51. The setting has been transplanted to beautiful New Zealand, of course — the tourism board must be proud — with a story centered around buddies killing time in their small town away from the big city before the aliens show up and everything gets psychedelic. With an obvious shoestring budget and a ridiculous concept to pull off, how much literal shit can these filmmakers get away with for a Kiwi stoner sci-fi comedy?

Featuring indigenous Māori people among the central characters, the production has a near-documentary feel establishing a group of close friends… which are all but forgotten once the main character close-encounters the titular aliens. Both story lines have their merits but feel spliced together from separate movies after the second-act jump. The aliens are fun and hilarious — every moment they’re on-screen is pure joy, like seeing Coneheads for the first time — but the rest falls flat in comparison. While watching Earthlings getting stoned and striking out with ladies looks as pathetic as it sounds, all the wonderful alien antics and innovative filmmaking can’t make up for a disjointed script and final cut that actively resists any sense of cohesion.

Quentin Tarantino has been long quoted championing would-be filmmakers to skip film school and spend their tuition on a first film instead, which is exactly how this feels. Good choices in camera equipment, special effects, and utilizing a naturally beautiful setting squeezes the most out of a tiny budget, creating a final product looking far more expensive than it has any right to be. Once the aliens make their first appearance, the first act’s goodwill introductions and character building are suddenly reduced to filler, footnoted in a slapdash third act that can’t decide if killing off random characters is dramatic, comedic, or disposable. It’s possible there’s some humor lost in translation, or maybe it’s a lot more entertaining for viewers who partake along with the characters; your mileage may vary.

More falls flat than it should and certainly more than the concept deserved; it’s equally possible that the loss of one their actors shortly after filming made re-shoots impossible. Writer/director Shae Sterling clearly has a good eye and can maximize a budget; the professional look comes from experience as a known documentary filmmaker — staging a fictional story is a bit different than capturing and editing real life. Mirroring the ambition of the Chiodo Bros. 1988 vehicle Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Sterling shows both promise and potential in the feature film space but may be better served with a less fantastic concept… unless he wants to make an alien-focused sequel, of course.

Alien Addiction contains some sex, nudity, violence, gore, profanity, alcohol, drugs, smoking, and everything else you’d expect in a stoner movie… plus literal shit.

Two skull recommendation out of four

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