Well, starting its life out as a short film (Welcome to Willits: Sundown) ‘The Alien Hunter’ aka Welcome to Willits is a feature length movie by Trevor Ryan which delivers goofy sci-fun, camp acting and some gruesome effects in equal measures.
The plot is paper thin so bear with me as I attempt to introduce it, although admittedly there is some mileage to be made out of a slight twist at the end – if you hadn’t already seen it coming. It follows a family of redneck-esk US citizens who, after surviving a rather torturous abduction from extra-terrestrials, dedicate their lives to hunting them down, one by one, upon their return. In a parallel plot line, a group of stoner twenty somethings, planning a camping trip in the infamous ‘Emerald Triangle’ find themselves in a bit of bother as someone appears to be hunting their number… with all the drugs involved, can you guess what might be happening?
In all honesty, the plot is perhaps the films largest hang-up, although contradictory to that point it is perhaps its most charming aspect also. The biggest issue, to get it out of the way first, is simply that there just isn’t a lot of scope for development, and this simply means a lot of dead time when nothing of any interest is happening. In terms of the ‘charm’, well the alien abduction theme is funny – especially the goofy costumes and amusing ‘experiment’ sections – which rather bizarrely feature Dolph Lundgren in a cameo role. These sequences contain some of the films gore, although it’s not as graphic as perhaps it could have been when considering the rather cool spattering’s of practical effects which are found elsewhere in the movie.
The acting is so so, the script not so much, but it does the job – just about. Even accepting the dodgy concepts integral to the movie’s plot, the rest of the film has all the hallmark issues of every no-budget film which is relying on ‘camp’ over substance; including characters which range from uninteresting to irritating, and a lot of padded dialogue which would be difficult to deliver no matter how much acting experience you had.
So, is the movie a complete washout?
Well no, it doesn’t try to be anything other than a goofy sci-fi horror crossover, and to that degree it more than succeeds. It has some decent gore effects and doesn’t outstay its welcome either. There is a cheeky twist towards the end which gives it a little more depth than the rest of the film would indicate and, probably most significant, it is quite an original concept (which is saying something in today’s market which is awash with clones). Indeed, the only other movie which I could compare is Jake West’s excellent ‘Evil Aliens’.
Overall, given the above, I’m confident that whilst it wasn’t a masterpiece, the film will no doubt find a niche audience – particularly those who are fans of all things stoner, or those simply looking for a bit of fun with Aliens.