[Review] 'Attack of the Unknown' is a Blast of Much-Needed Sci-Fi Energy

What appears to be a sting operation to take down the notorious drug lord Hades (Robert LaSardo) turns into so much more. When outside forces from a world beyond our own invade, the SWAT team charged with transporting Hades is seeing all Hell break loose around them. What is the best defense against destroying these alien invaders? Will the hostile Hades work alongside his captors, or even his fellow prisoners? And when the immediate threat has been neutralized, what will the outside world look like?

Alien invasion films can end up a bit formulaic. Invasion, resistance is futile, hey we got one, then the last big showdown. With Attack of the Unknown, the characters aren’t all one-dimensional, copy and paste players. Hades’ backstory in particular is integral to the plot, making his storyline and eventual payoff all the more impactful. Second only to Hades is Vernon (Richard Grieco), especially when something that appears to be his Achilles’ heel turns out to be far more beneficial to the resistance than once thought.

The aliens themselves look genuinely cool. In their armor, they look like Gigerian nightmares, with opaque helmets that obscure their faces. Even when one of the monsters loses their helmet, it looks like an evolution of the “little green men” of yore, except these things are minimum six feet tall with tendrils that strike outta nowhere, Randy Orton-style. Further, the blending of cu cuy, the Mexican folklore bogeyman, with the age-old alien story is a nice touch, another ripple in the backstory that brings things together.

Some could argue that seeing an apocalypse play out onscreen, regardless of the circumstances, is a little close to the bone, given the world we currently live in. That said, it’s interesting to see how real-life pandemic response has allowed art to imitate life, often in entertaining and satirical fashion. Bonus points to the grandma who scolds a twenty-something for swearing while starting up a car, as she says “stop fucking cursing, it’s judgment day!” Even the outright comedy of that moment feels right in the situation, and allows things to breathe a little bit. Add to this the character arc of gamer/influencer Dallas Zhang (Johnny Huang), and the comedic bits in this otherwise fantastical film just work too well to go unmentioned.

Attack of the Unknown makes the viewer care just enough about the main characters, without becoming ham-fisted or a self-parody. It’s more action-heavy than some of the previous Mahal Empire productions, but that’s far from a black mark against this film. It’s entertaining, the characters are fun to watch, and the action sequences are intense without being too gritty or over-the-top.

Attack of the Unknown is available on VOD platforms via Gravitas Ventures beginning this Friday, August 28th.