On Christmas Day in any year, there’s not much to do but go to the movies. In 2007, Film Threat scribe Michael Ferraro was in my city; we went to see “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem” (AVP-R). Directed by brothers Colin and Greg Strause, this science-fiction/horror of an action film takes off where its predecessor, “AVP:Alien vs. Predator,” landed. The surviving Predator creature is sent up to its mothership. Before the viewer has time to soak up the sets and the spacecraft’s environs, the resting Predator gives birth to an Alien monster and the infection begins. Alien pods overrun the ship, which then crashes into a small American town. Another Predator hub detects trouble, locates the fallen spacecraft, and heads towards Earth to investigate. Upon claiming their first two human victims (a father and his very young son who are hunting in the woods), the Aliens go about killing and reproducing.
Like “AVP,” the match-up of wits and ferocity in “AVP-R” is carried out on two levels: the title monsters fight each other; the humans battle against the monsters (sometimes simultaneously). Whereas the people in the former film were trying to survive in a closed-off space in subterranean Antarctic surroundings and had to learn that Predator was an ally, the people in the latter film defend themselves all over town and only have a confrontation with Predator towards the end of the picture.
The core group of doomed earthlings consists of a paroled inmate (Steven Pasquale), two teenagers (Johnny Lewis and Kristen Hager), a mother (Reiko Aylesworth) and her daughter (Ariel Gade), and a sheriff (John Ortiz). Not long after these individuals band together and try to find a way out, they come across more survivors. Rather than stay together and head towards the center of town where the government assures there will be an evacuation airlift, some of them go to the hospital intending to escape on the helicopter.
Carnage (of Aliens and humans alike) spills out throughout “AVP-R.” Aside from the sequence with the father and son in the woods and some of the hospital footage, the various manifestations of monster-on-human violence are less than satisfying. Not that “AVP” was a gem glittering in the mundane darkness of the sci-fi/horror-action genre remix, but there were more Predators fighting more Aliens. “AVP-R” features a horde of Aliens and one solitary Predator. Their scuffles aren’t nearly as exciting as I had hoped. Part of this letdown is the result of visibility issues. The camerawork is a smidge too shaky and the lighting/color design too dark for me to relish the Predator-on-Alien butt-kicking.
Michael and I chose to watch “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem” because he loves “Predator” films, and I like Predator as a character more than Alien. It was a guilty pleasure for us both; we had no expectations of top calibre quality, but it left a bland aftertaste in my mind. Bland is one notch above indifference, yet I still felt disappointment. I realize that if Predator engaged with the humans like his counterparts did in the “AVP,” he would bounce into the cheese arena of the previous film’s ending. Nevertheless, I’d have wanted to see him do more than mimic a missing person’s investigator hell-bent on cleaning up the forensic evidence of his and the Alien’s existence.
If the AVP concept is going to be a trilogy (and the ending suggests as much), then I could possibly believe that “Requiem” is just the lackluster, mediocre one in the middle. I would probably watch the third installment too, hoping to get my fill of badass Predator-on-Alien behavior.