Dir. Jared Allmond (2023)
A couple returns home to find two sadistic strangers waiting to terrorize them.
Indie sci-fi is incredibly difficult to pull off. In order for science fiction to be compelling, it has to be futuristic enough to press the boundaries of possible while being grounded enough in the real world to feel realistic. Performing the first of those tasks requires money, or at least incredibly creative filmmaking, while the second part needs an enthralling plot and an incredibly competent cast and crew. While indie horror only needs a couple of buckets of blood to find fans, the sci-fi genre creates a much higher standard that must be met to make a fan-winning film. Writer/director Jared Allmond tries to clear that hurdle with his new film The Hive, an indie science fiction/ home invasion thriller set in the Hollywood Hills.
Embattled couple Albie (Timothy Haug) and Penny (Christie Griffin) are ready for a night on the town, having shipped their children off to Penny's mother for a night of socializing and, hopefully, some afterparty activity back home. When they return to their house, they find it populated by two strange, robotic people, and all of their neighbors seem to be similarly bizarre. Their calls to the police go unanswered, so they decide to sneak back into their house to document the interlopers' illegal activity, but they are captured and tortured in a search for information that they clearly don't have. The couple must put aside their differences to try to escape their tormentors and find help, hoping that their marital discord won't get in the way of their fight for survival.
The Hive has pretty high production values, and director Jared Allmond is clearly a competent filmmaker: the film is cleverly shot, utilizing a shaky-cam that is slightly disorienting when necessary, and both the sound and visuals work really well together. Unfortunately, Allmond also wrote the script, which is where the problems with the film really come in. The writing falls flat throughout, and while it works perfectly for the stilted dialogue of the alien intruders, it doesn't deliver nearly as well in any scene that doesn't involve extraterrestrial neighbors.
The score is decent, though it permeates nearly every scene of the film so as to become tiresome. The script struggles to balance the tone between light-hearted comedy between a squabbling couple and sci-fi thriller about an invading alien horder. The creepy, robotic performances by all of the invaders-posed-as-neighbors work really well, but unfortunately the stars of the show don't particularly act any different. Haug is especially wooden, though Griffin does her damndest to try to make the whole thing work anyway. Ultimately, it is a futile effort, as The Hive is never exciting enough to be a thriller and never funny enough to be a comedy.
Besides the script, the pacing is far too slow to make an entertaining movie. Most of the runtime is relatively dull, and the interspersed action isn't enough to elevate the film to its aspirations. At times, it can feel like a chore to watch, because even the "action" in the last half of the film is kinda boring. It's a unique concept for a film, to be sure, and perhaps all of the pieces could have come together into an interesting and worthwhile film. Unfortunately, this just wasn't it.
Who this movie is for: Indie horror/scifi fans, Home invasion devotees, The CIA
Bottom line: The Hive is a great idea on paper, but films aren't made on paper. Scripts are made on paper, but this one isn't very good. Drab, slow-moving, and failing to find the desired balance between science fiction and comedy, the film struggles through bizarre acting choices and a subpar script while trying to create a film that is watchable and entertaining. It fails at both, despite the best efforts of some of the cast and crew. If you're a fan of low-budget sci-fi, though, it may well be worth a watch. You can check it out On Demand today.