By Dave B.
Occupation (2018, currently on Netflix) tells the story of an alien invasion from the perspective of a small town in Australia. The few survivors of the invasion, who haven’t been captured and forced into slave labor or used for experimentation, form a resistance group in the forests surrounding their town. As days turn into months, the group hones their fighting skills and expands their ranks by taking in other displaced people, as well as by conducting raids that free their neighbors. But the aliens are here to stay and a ragtag guerrilla group, no matter how determined, isn’t going to be able to defeat the invaders alone.
I…admire the effort that clearly went into the making of Occupation. The fact that it’s a labor of love is evident in every scene. And it does some things well. In particular, I like how the movie depicts the fraying group dynamics that inevitably occur over time when people are determined to fight for a seemingly lost cause. There being a plausible, rational reason for the invasion is also a big plus that helps to elicit slightly more empathy for the aliens than most movies of this genre are willing to attempt. The performances are…spirited, and most of the main characters fall somewhere in the range between tolerable and likable. Making a movie that attempts to be massive in scale on a $6 million budget can’t be easy and everyone who worked on this movie deserves an A for effort.
However, Occupation’s flaws are far more glaring than its successes. The camerawork is straight garbage and the dialogue is written poorly enough to be annoying, but not poorly enough to be funny. The acting, although “spirited” as I mentioned earlier, is mostly bad and not only is the movie extremely long at 119 minutes, viewers are likely to be aware of nearly every moment of that time because the CGI isn’t up to par with modern sci-fi indie movies and the action sequences are one notch above atrocious. I could tolerate all of that, but Occupation also introduces some interesting concepts that it doesn’t fully develop in its pursuit of being primarily an action movie. So instead of merely thinking that the movie is bad, it’ll make a good number of viewers frustrated by its wasted potential. And its overly obvious appeals to base emotions fall flat. A little subtly can go a long way when a movie doesn’t have the budget to overawe audiences with special effects.
Despite my many, many criticisms, Occupation will always have a place in my heart because it’s very easy to fall into the movie world in which it exists. I frankly didn’t care too much about all of Occupation’s glaring flaws while watching it because of the respect that I felt for the passion that infuses the movie. I won’t recommend Occupation. No matter how I look at it, it just isn’t a good movie and respecting the effort put into something isn’t the same as actually liking or respecting the final product. But I don’t regret watching it at all and I think there are a lot of people out there who may feel the same about this one as I do, if they’re inclined give it a chance.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.