COMPANY: Téléfilm Canada
RUNTIME: 99 mins
PLOT: A group of aliens, in disguise as female humans, infiltrate a Canadian university in the hopes of mating and producing offspring. It's up to one guy and his friends to put a stop to this secret invasion, all the while being suspected by the police for the recent rash of murders caused by these aliens
REVIEW: I've been having recurring nights lately where no matter how tired I am, I just can't get to sleep. I probably should go see someone about that and maybe get some sleeping medication or something. In the meantime though, I've been using my sleepless nights to watch some campy bad movie goodness. One of the movies that came my way via 4AM movie watching last night would be Decoys - the low budget Canadian answer to the 90's cult erotic sci-fi flick Species. To be honest, I wasn't looking for anything more then a movie to fall asleep to, but within 20 minutes I knew I'd be staying awake long enough to finish it, because I was having such a blast with it. Easiest way to describe the movie when talking about it to friends – American Pie meets Species.
Much like with Species, there's a horny female alien (actually several in this movie), looking for the perfect mate to father their offspring (anyone the aliens mate with seem to die before they can finish, so they're looking for people who can withstand having sex with them). And what better place for finding a perfect mate then a bustling party university where, much like American Pie, our main leads are trying to loose their virginity. Also taking a page from Species, these aliens can change between human form and creepy tentacled-alien creature at will, and do so whenever threatened or in the height of their sexual activities.
That's where the similarities with Species and American Pie end however. In this, the main human character is a bit of a geek who's best friends with one of the party-going hornball guys that one of the aliens sets her sights on. After witnessing some of the aliens change, our hero tries to warn his friend – and everyone else – but just gets laughed off, so he takes matters into his own hands. Discovering that the aliens thrive on the cold and thus are scared of fire, he sets out with a flame thrower on a one-man mission to save the world. And it's at that point the movie unexpectedly turns into a full-on comedy.
And that's the movie's biggest fault, if you ask me. Not that it turns into a comedy per sey (I actually feel that's when the movie is at it's best), but that it just changes gears so abruptly and so far in. Personally, I really loved all the comedy bits of the main guy running around campus like a maniac, screaming his lungs out, shouting one-liners like Bruce Campbell is going out of style, kicking down doors and firing a flame thrower to roast the alien girls alive right as they're about to have sex with some guys. But what bothered me was that the majority of the movie played it mostly straight, and tried to be serious to a degree (sure, it still had some silly campy moments throughout, but overall the tone was mostly straight), then there comes a part about 20 minutes or so from the end where it just does a complete 180 into slapstick comedy territory for the rest of the movie. It almost seemed like they weren’t sure how they wanted to proceed with the tone of the movie, so just decided to do both, and it's quite jarring and takes you out of it for a bit. Really would have preferred they stayed with one tone or the other instead of switching part-way. Reading other reviews online, that seemed to be an aspect that turned quite a few people off from the movie.
My other complaint is with the acting. There's not very many scenes in the movie, from anyone, that's well-acted. While that doesn't seem to be as noticeable in the more-comedic final portion of the movie, it's distractingly noticeable in the first half as well as in any scene where strong emotions of sadness or anger are supposed to be present but they're just portrayed so badly.
Those are really the only main complaints I have though; everything else about the movie was just plain ol' fun and I had a blast with it. As with a movie of this kind (I.E. teen sex comedy; erotic alien invasion), there are plenty of young hot women on display in skimpy clothing. In terms of nudity, there is surprisingly very little with only one scene at the beginning really coming to mind, however every other scene seems to have one of the hot leading ladies of the movie stripped down to her bra or other scantily-clad forms of clothing. And don't get me wrong, this movie isn't one of those that shows nudity or near-nudity just for the sake of showing some skin, with nothing else going for it. Sure, it does have that in spades, but it also includes other things such as interesting characters that you love to watch as the events of the movie unfolds.
First there's the aforementioned main character who can never catch a break when it comes to the ladies of the campus...that is until the overly-sexy blond alien babes show up and a one of them takes an interest in him. But as soon as he finds out the truth, he wastes no time in waging war on the alien species to save his school – and the planet. It's at that point that the actor's performance goes into 'over the top, crazy, and campy' territory, but in a 'that's the point of it' kind of way and made many comedic scenes in the second half of the movie pretty laugh-out-loud 'what the heck am I watching' kind of funny, and it's at these points that the bad acting actually helped add to the entertainment as opposed to distract from it like earlier in the movie. Then there's his party-loving virgin best friend/roommate who also gets himself into a bit of trouble with a sexy alien babe, only to not listen to his friend's crazy warnings and...well...that ends about as well as expected. However the death actually hit a bit harder then I expected it to, and I was quite surprised at just how much I cared for this character by the time his end came, and I didn't really want him to go. I actually would have loved to see him work side-by-side with the main character in taking down the alien menace, but oh well. His death is really what sets the main character on his path of stopping the invasion. He also gets his very own out-of-place slow song playing over his death, but it really came across as more hilarious then anything serious, and with the style of this movie being what it is, I have no idea if that was the intent or not.
Next we got the tomboy female friend to the main guy, who acts as kind of his partner-in-crime throughout the movie and very-obviously has a crush on him that he just doesn't notice himself, which ends on an interesting note. I won't spoil it, but it was definitely fun and I hope to see these two characters back in any sequels there may be, however I highly doubt it considering the end of the movie. Still, I can always hope. And speaking of hope, I was actually hoping to see her take a much more aggressive stance against the alien babes, since they were, after all, trying to sleep with the guy she likes; maybe a good girl-on-girl cat fight or something, but unfortunately we don't get anything like that and she remains working behind-the-scenes mostly as kind of this movie's Chloe Sullivan, and even disappears from the movie all together for a large chunk, which is a shame cause she was one of my favorite characters and would have loved to see her do more during the climatic final 20 minutes or so.
Rounding out the main human characters are the two cops investigating the mysterious murders popping up around the campus. Personally, I could have done without these characters. They were portrayed quite poorly and didn't really add anything to the overall movie other then more minutes to the run time. The male cop was annoying as all hell and the female cop supposedly used to have a relationship with the main hero, despite looking about twice his age, and like with everything regarding the cop characters – it went absolutely nowhere and had absolutly no bearing on the rest of the movie whatsoever. And the worst thing? The male cop is so annoying, I was waiting anxiously for his death scene – except we never get it. Out of the few characters to survive, he had to be one of them. Actually, he completely drops out of the movie until he shows up again for about 30 seconds towards the end, and not in any 'shows up at the last minute to save the day' capacity either. Just in yet another useless appearance.
And of course, there's the nest of sexy alien babes. And sexy is the best way to describe them. They certainly weren’t hired for their acting abilities, but in a movie where they play sex-crazed attractive women...I'm totally fine with that. What makes these characters so interesting is that unlike in Species, these aliens have a decent grasp on how to portray human emotion, to a degree. They're not perfect in that aspect but they're far from the monotone robot-like personality of the creature from Species. Actually, their emotions play a rather large part in the plot of the movie which is something Species has never bothered to really explore, and it's that aspect that really sets this movie apart from being 'just another Species clone'. We also get a bit of the backstory of their race and why exactly they've come to Earth, and more specifically, why they picked Canada. Sure, it's only a short 3 or 4 line explanation, but one that really worked for me and added a bit more depth to the characters that normally don't really get it in these types of movies.
The movie also has a rather well-written script. For instance, they have you actually believe that the two main character best friends are best friends, unlike a lot of movies that say it, and even show it, but don't do a good job of portraying it. It also takes some level of talent to make you care just as much for the invading alien species as it does their potential victims. This movie did an excellent job of making me care about not only the main characters, but also the invading sexy alien babes, none of which I was really expecting to care for. There's also some quirky and fun dialog thrown in: “She screwed him to death!”, “They've come to Earth to sleep with us and kill us all!”, “With you lately, it's all about cameras, conspiracies, and ass-kicking alien girls from Hooters planet!”, “He thinks you're part of a Hottie Invasion Force from Hell”, “That's it, ladies, show me your navels”, and my personal favorite comes as the hero bursts into a room of sexy alien babes with his flame thrower - “Belt of Orion? How about belt of O-Fryin'!” and then you can probably guess what happens next. The movie is pretty much filled with dialog like that, so fans of campy B-movie goodness can't help but fall in love with it, with a large smile on their face. At least that's how I was every time a character shouted out another such cheesy line. Add into the mix some unexpected plot twists throughout that I honestly didn't see coming, and the writer of this movie has got me as a fan for all future projects.
And to add to everything else as kind of the sweet cherry on top: Since the aliens thrive on the cold, the movie takes place in the middle of winter, with snow on the ground. I don't know why, but I always love it when movies take place in the snow – adds to the atmosphere I think. It's just a little observation but one that I much appreciate. And their reason for picking Canada as their initial invasion point is due to the infamous cold winters here, which I got a good chuckle out of. Sure, when you give it much thought it doesn't make any sense, since there are just-as-populated city locations in Russia that get even colder, but any excuse to have an alien invasion flick take place in my country is fine by me.
I'm a huge Species fan and while this isn't technically a Species movie, it felt enough like one that it satisfied my late-night alien sex shlock for the time being, but also did enough things different that it kept my interest in it as a separate entity and made me want to see more of these characters in potential future installments.
8/10 rooms in the Psych Ward