What is Attack of the Unknown about?
Attack of the Unknown starts like a lot of action films, with a SWAT raid on a drug kingpin compound. Their goal is simple, to arrest a crime syndicate boss and transport him to jail. At first, this seems like a relatively easy idea… right up until the Aliens invade, at which point it turns into Assault on Precinct 13 but with aliens who have come to drain the blood from humanity (because the Aliens are also vampires). With the fate of the world in the hands of a small team of SWAT agents and a bunch of criminals, humanity might be doomed.
Now, that plot sounds like a lot of fun right? Like a good solid B-movie filled with cheese. The concept lends itself to so much potential with a lot of fun silly set pieces that could be amusing even with budget effects… in execution, however, Attack of the Unknown is just kind of dull and occasionally turns semi-amusing when the rejected Power Ranger villains that are our aliens turn up to gesture in the general direction of our protagonists while a CGI tail flies out and stabs them… that’s really about it.
What are the problems with Attack of the Unknown?
For the bulk of Attack of the Unknown, the dialogue is a mix between hard to understand and boring enough that it can almost be tuned out. Normally in an action film having subpar dialogue might be fine, we’re here to see things blow up and assorted stunt doubles throw fake punches at each other… except in a low-budget film when you can’t actually afford an explosion, then it might help to have some fun cheesy dialogue to help make the film more amusing but most of the dialogue is perfunctory and bland.
Even with bad dialogue, one might hope for some entertainingly bad performances, right? Nope, some of the cast is too competent to give a bad performance but the material they have to work with doesn’t allow them to give a good performance so they land somewhere around “I turned up” as a performance strategy. No one goes over the top, no one makes the work believable, it almost feels like they just wanted to get through the takes as quickly as they could.
So, without good dialogue or entertaining performances, how’s the action? I mean… occasionally I felt that the aliens were intimidating when they turned up and the gun muzzle flashes looked well done but there weren’t any scenes where I was excited or thrilled by the fight in front of me… and this is a movie about SWAT going up against Aliens, there are thousands of ways that could potentially be interesting to watch and somehow this film avoids every single one of them.
Hell, good luck if you can even really follow what’s happening visually since the camera seems to be on constant handheld mode for no reason other than not wanting to waste the time to actually set up a shot, but it’s clearly not on a proper Steadicam so everything is shaky as hell. Accompanied by editing that just feels like it was the assembly cut before they went in to actually fix everything, it’s not even that fun to look at this film.
Final thoughts on Attack of the Unknown
I would like nothing more than to say Attack of the Unknown was so bad that it’s good, that’s what I thought it would be when I saw the trailer. The trailer promised me something that was admittedly stupid looking, but at least it’d be fun. Instead what I got was something that clearly has a decent idea behind it, but no ability to execute that idea. It’s not as fun as you’d hope, even the scenes with Tara Reid (who I’m guessing gave them about 3 hours to get all her shots) aren’t interesting. Sadly this is one that I wish had just remained an unknown.
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