In 2013, Jason Eisener directed a short horror movie from a script he wrote with John Davies for Shudder’s V/H/S/2, the beloved horror found footage anthology. The short film, “Slumber Party Alien Abduction,” tells the story of a group of kids and teenagers left home alone right before an alien invasion and who must join forces to fight for their lives. Now, the creative duo is back to repeat their roles in Kids vs. Aliens, a horror comedy that works as the second spinoff of the V/H/S franchise, expanding on the wacky concept and bringing their work to theaters. Unfortunately, the plot gets stretched too thin to push Kids vs. Aliens beyond a feature runtime. Still, the movie rewards horror fiends who decide to stick until the end with a sloppy but gloriously campy gorefest.


“Slumber Party Alien Abduction” is set in an empty house by the lake on Halloween night with no adults around. To enjoy their free unsupervised time, a group of kids works together to make an awesome movie. Meanwhile, a group of teenagers gives into partying and casual sex. The groups constantly fight each other, as the teenagers are basically bullies, and the kids are total rascals. However, their schism is put on hold when aliens come from the lake and start abducting people for their bizarre experiments. Since the short is part of the V/H/S franchise, “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” uses the found footage structure, gluing together pieces of footage that the kids in the movie supposedly produced during the evening of the attack. For most of its duration, Kids vs. Aliens follows the same story beats, dropping the found footage aesthetic in favor of a neon-drenched B-movie experience.

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The issue with expanding the concept of “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” into a full feature is that now we all know what to expect. That means Eisener doesn’t need to build up a seemingly mundane story before shattering expectations with creatures coming from space. In fact, since the movie is already named Kids vs. Aliens, even people unaware of the previous V/H/S short can have a pretty good idea of what they are getting into. That leads us to the biggest issue with the feature, as it spends too much time with human characters that are one dimension and ultimately dull.

Image via RJE Films/Shudder


For almost half of Kids vs. Aliens tight 75-minute runtime, we get to spend excruciating moments with kids and teenagers that check all the boxes of the cliche list. A group of young boys? Well, of course, they think girls are dumb! And there’s a teenage bad boy? Well, then, women must fall for him instantly, even while he throws beer bottles in nature. And we all know if someone is having a Halloween party, only douchebags are allowed inside the house. While this long prelude to the promised conflict of Kids vs. Aliens could be used to build some emotional stakes, the movie actually prefers to keep things shallow. While that’s a valid creative choice, especially considering what comes after the sluggish intro, it also makes the whole thing unnecessary in the first place. The only reason to justify so much runtime of Kids vs. Aliens being dedicated to tiresome tropes of childish and teenage behavior is to help the movie go from a short to a full feature. And that’s a shame because when things start to get fascinating, the audience is already tired and ready to give up.

Despite all of this, those who make it to the second half of Kids vs. Aliens will be rewarded with an unexpected turn of events that cranks the weirdness up to unbelievable levels. And as blood and ooze explode on the screen to the sound of synthesizers, you’ll almost forget everything that came before. Kids vs. Aliens goes well beyond the story of “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” and takes horror fiends into a wild ride of purposely low-production practical effects that contribute to turning the feature into a fun homage to the 1980s. We don’t want to spoil the fun, but things do get better before the end, as Kids vs. Aliens embraces the campiness that should have been there right from the start.

Granted, Kids vs. Aliens love for gore and campy things that bump in the night is not for every taste. However, fans of low-budgeted horror movies that find creative ways to make the audience laugh and cringe at the same time will be well-served by Eisener’s movie. Overall, the movie is as sloppy as a horror movie can be, but that also contributes to its charm. The only major downside of the experience is a drag of a first act, that’ll most certainly scare away impatient horror fans, and with good reason.

Rating: C+

Kids vs. Aliens comes to theaters, digital, and on-demand on January 20.

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