Alien Addiction (2020)

Shae Sterling

Running Time: 97 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Jimi Jackson, Thomas Sainsbury, Jojo Waaka, Harry Summerfield, Ayham Ghalayini, Tane Huata, Tukairangi Maxwell, Veronica Edwards, Steven Samuel Johnston

In his time, Shae Sterling has become renowned in the music industry. Having directed over 125 music videos, he moves onto writing and directing his first narrative feature. The story follows Riko (Jimi Jackson), who has grown content with his lackadaisical lifestyle in the middle of nowhere. When two aliens crash land near his home, Riko welcomes the aliens, and a friendship develops between them. On their heels is Peter Mackintosh (Thomas Sainsbury), an alientologist tracking the aliens, intent on gaining fame by revealing them to the world.

One can feel the aspirations in Sterling's film, wishing to explore a down-to-Earth story through an otherworldly conceit. It wants to have the heart found in Taika Waititi's works, the gross-out nature of early Peter Jackson, and the humour which works for both directors. How unfortunate that it misses those mark, instead delivering something juvenile which outstays a welcome it never had. The bottom of the barrel gets thoroughly scraped, as the film relies on two jokes to sustain its runtime: that having sex with a larger woman is horrific, and the conceit of aliens being addicted to smoking poo. No matter how much it tries, this can't cover up how aimless the film is, or how never-ending the 97-minute runtime feels.

If anything, the inspirations for this feature feel rooted in 90's slacker films. Look no further than the lead character, a stoner with no drive in life who falls into potentially dangerous scenarios, and exits with barely a scrape, thanks to the plot bending to his whim. We're expected to sympathise with Riko because his aunt is eccentric, and he gets lumped in with derogatory comments about her as a result. Considering his main characteristics are being a pest and a pervert, that flimsy attempt to feel sorry for him doesn't succeed.

Throwing a spanner in the works are a pair of alien hunters, who make up alien-related stories for their blog. When they arrive on the trail of the UFO, it's supposed to inject a sense of urgency, which propels the plot into making us realise how much we've cared for the protagonists. Instead, the plot stalls, leaving us to realise how forced these antagonists feel, and how we feel nothing for the protagonists. When it comes to the aliens, the performers do good work behind the costumes. Their pose, physicality, and movement feels very alien, and is the most convincing thing about them. It's far from a ray of sunshine, but considering how interminable the film is, it's the closest we have to one.