By Dave B.
57 years after an alien invasion that killed 95% of humanity, most of the remaining humans live underground. Soldiers are the only people who regularly get to spend significant time aboveground, when they deploy for 100 day sentry duties, intended to keep the alien menace at bay. That’s the background of Alien Invasion: S.U.M. 1 (2017, currently on Hulu). It stars Iwan Rheon (of Game of Thrones notoriety) as S.U.M. 1, a young soldier on his first sentry mission. Tasked with spending 100 days in nearly complete solitude, S.U.M. 1 begins to question himself, his environment, and everything that he’s been taught to believe.
Alien Invasion: S.U.M. 1 has a surprisingly effective premise. At first blush, a movie that pretty much contains only a single character may not seem incredibly appealing, but Rheon’s performance is strong enough that he carries the rather slow-paced movie and I was nearly able to forget that he also played Ramsay Bolton on GoT. It’s appropriately bleak scenery helps make Alien Invasion: S.U.M. 1 work well when it’s serving as a psychological study on the effects of prolonged isolation combined with constant fear and ignorance, and it’s a pretty absorbing watch for about an hour or so of its 90 minute runtime.
Unfortunately, the movie runs out of creative steam as it progresses towards its end. The outcome of the film is predictable, shallow, and more unsatisfying that I thought it would be considering that I guessed what to expect. Further, the special effects aren’t up to the level that many indie sci-fi movies are capable of nowadays. And the only possible overarching theme to the movie that I can come up with, is one that I don’t like.
Alien Invasion: S.U.M. 1 is one of those movies that has a great central idea that it can run with for a while, but lacks a clear exit strategy and a strong, compelling message. If it wasn’t for the last 15 minutes or so of the movie, I would happily recommend it and praise everyone involved with it for a strong effort that hits more than misses. But, that last 15 minutes exists, so while I still praise the cast, crew, et al. for their effort, I can’t recommend this film. Whether Alien Invasion: S.U.M. 1 is good or bad is almost irrelevant: I just didn’t enjoy it quite enough to suggest that others check it out.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.