Recently released from a mental hospital, Mark is looking for a fresh start in his life, and a new place to live. He finds the latter with alien-obsessed Alana (Jean Louise O’Sullivan), who has a room to rent. Only Mark begins hearing voices again, his best friend Ray (Brandon Fisher) is more interested in getting him high, drunk or laid than making sure that Mark keeps on his medication, and Mark is increasingly hallucinating about a strange alien creature in a hoodie.
First, the good: Alien Inhabitant is often a copious meal for the eyes, employing distortions, colors and CGI to enhance the image, particularly when Mark is at his most delusional. Likewise, the score is a mix sci-fi flavors that keeps your ears stimulated. For the technical craftsmanship in those areas alone, I have to tip my hat to the film.
Unfortunately, that’s about all I can praise with this one. The visual effects, for example, may be stellar, but they become repetitious when the film seems content with giving us yet another scene where Mark is or is not going crazy. We know from the opening that something bad has happened, as he’s being grilled by police, and what we’re seeing is Mark trying to remember the previous events (another not-so-original cinematic idea). But then everything feels drawn out as Mark makes the same wrong decisions (ignoring his medication, for example) again and again, and then we see him suffer as he hears or sees something. Is he guilty of whatever the cops are accusing him of? The film doesn’t give you many reasons to think otherwise.
I mean, it’s clear where this one is going, and that is not a damnation for the film in itself, as long as the film offers something new and fresh along the way. Beyond its technical achievements, however, it doesn’t give us much more than a schizophrenic character, who is hearing and seeing things, not taking his medication. The mystery isn’t much of a mystery at that point. Where do you think this one is headed?
Additions of romantic side-plots don’t help the film out, coming off as contrived and undercutting motivations of different characters. In fact, character motivation and action is a big issue here. Ray, for example, is all about getting his buddy high, and discouraging when it comes to Mark taking his prescribed medication, but Ray is also the one who is first to consider re-committing Mark, out of concern for his well-being. Is he concerned or isn’t he, because his actions seem to be motivated in one way until it is conveniently time, for the narrative, for them to be different.
In the end, I think I would’ve liked to see the filmmaking skills on display put to use in something with a stronger story. This one feels like Psychological Thriller 101, and it’s upsetting because filmmaker James Howarth is obviously capable of better. He’s not even bad in the lead role as Mark; this is not one of those films that is full of laughable performances. If anything, Alien Inhabitant‘s achievements are what bring into severe contrast its lesser aspects.
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