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The Alien Agenda: Out of the Darkness   B-

Brimstone Productions

Year Released: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directors: Mick McCleery, Kevin Lindenmuth
Writers: Mick McCleery, Kevin Lindenmuth
Cast: Sasha Graham, Scooter McCrae, Mick McCleery, John Collins, Marcus Zanders.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Out of the Darkness is the first of Kevin Lindenmuth's Alien Agenda franchise, which has been an interesting source of collaboration between many names in micro-budget cinema, with different directors helming segments of each installment. Out of Darkness is a pretty compelling start, managing to build a subtle sense of dread in spite of some cheesy moments. Aliens on a shoestring budget? This is just begging to be Mystery Science Theater fodder. Though there are a few chuckles, it never dips into the self-mocking tone of the later Alien Agenda movies.

The story that frames Out of the Darkness takes place in 2030. Aliens have taken over the earth, but one guy (Mick McCleery) living in a house near the woods -- in constant fear that the aliens may come for him -- has some alien technology in his basement that lets him look into the past. He has a virtual time machine, so to speak. As he watches two stories from the past unfold, he realizes just how clever those pesky aliens are and how the way was paved for their eventual takeover.

In the first venture into the past, we're taken to 1985 where a doctor (John Collins) is on the run for murders he didn't commit. This story was directed by Mick McCleery (The Killing of Bobby Greene) and shot in grim black and white. It's a decent tale, with a good lead performance by Collins, but it suffers from terrible sound in a few spots: there's one scene in particular that I could hardly make out the dialogue. It's ultimately forgettable, but not bad.

The best part of the movie is the next segment, helmed by Lindenmuth. It's 1997 and a disturbed runaway named Becky (Sasha Graham) is prowling the streets of New York while voices in her head urge her to do bad things... like, you know, kill people. She meets a weird guy named Sam (played by Shatter Dead director Scooter McCrae) who's not quite human -- in fact, he enjoys the little pleasures in life like hunting people late at night in Central Park, then feeding on their tasty human flesh. Sam lets Becky stay with him, since it'll be nice to have the company. Neither of them knows quite what they're in for.

Ever since The Vicious Sweet, I've been in awe of Sasha Graham. If there were an Oscars for micro-budget movies, she would have taken home the gold for her performance in that one. Here she displays a childlike innocence so endearing we feel for her even after she brutally stabs a guy. It's her confused vulnerability that pulls us in and keeps us intrigued. In the end, The Alien Agenda: Out of the Darkness is worth a look for low-budget sci-fi and horror junkies -- if mainly for the brilliantly weird segment with Graham and McCrae. It's a good start to an ambitious (if not always effective) trilogy.

Review published 01.25.2001.

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