The most alarming thing about Occupation is that it isn’t a low budget movie. Somehow, the production team managed to raise $6M to pull together this Australian-made horror show. That’s significantly more than many of the films right at the top of the Every Sci Fi list, including Threads, 28 Days Later and Perfect Sense, meaning there is absolutely no excuse for just how botched an abortion Occupation really is.
In fact, this might be the very worst sci fi of all time. It’s certainly a strong candidate. It begins with life in rural Australia, introducing us to some ham-fisted archetypes that populate the small town, from the pair of arrogant football rivals to the war-hardened overprotective father. Before long, a local Aussie-rules game is violently interrupted by an alien invasion. Despite having at least one country-sized interstellar spacecraft and technology far surpassing anything we have on earth, these invaders employ a bizarre range of tactics in the assault – including deploying foot soldiers with conventional guns and small grenades to wipe out the fleeing humans.
After retreating to the countryside, a rag-rag handful of survivors decide to launch a counter-attack against those bastard aliens, equipped with a handgun, a crowbar and a couple of baseball bats. Inexplicably this is somehow successful, helped hugely by the colossal convenience that the extra-terrestrial lifeforms perfectly mimic the human form – so much so that the rebels can wear their armour and comfortably fire their weapons. It’s honestly pathetic watching how hopeless the aliens are against this totally useless crew of castaways.
The characters are infuriatingly stupid too, as is the plot. After discovering that the townsfolk are being pointlessly held captive in a nearby factory and spending time interrogating a captive alien (and beating it to death), eventually the gang meet up with the Australian army, which now consists of about five people and a jeep. For yet more unexplained reasons, some kind of viral superweapon designed to wipe out mankind forever is being built in – you guessed it – that same factory in the nearby town.
The Australian army is famously known for losing the Great Emu War, so it’s no surprise that they are reluctant to commit to any mission to destroy or recover the weapon. The CO even dismisses it as a suicide mission, weirdly. Luckily, our troop of civilians are armed and ready to go, so off they set to save humanity. The movie’s final battle takes place in an empty field, pitting a dozen or so people against maybe 20 aliens. Naturally this should be a Charge of the Light Brigade-grade disaster; a bloodbath of foolish civilians mindlessly charging into the god-tier destruction tools of the well-organised futuristic fighting force. Alas, through some shifty footwork, a well-timed rugby tackle and a couple of shots fired from a rudimentary machine gun, the team are triumphant against the overwhelming odds and the day is saved. I know this is a spoiler, but you’ll thank me for the excuse to never watch this steaming pile of kangaroo piss.
After the battle, one of the crew quickly brokers a peace treaty with the captured forces (yep, they seem to understand what a handshake is) and the film eventually comes to a merciful close, albeit about 1hr 58m too late.
The film is truly littered with ludicrous or anachronistic scenes, such as the clichéd video diary complete with a large red ‘REC’ symbol and a 1980s-style timer at the top, or the moment when a small number of military helicopters manage to take down a fleet of actual alien spaceships in a dogfight.
Occupation arguably has two saving graces. One is that visually it’s not too bad. Lore aside, the costumes and special effects are of an acceptably high standard with only a handful of exceptions. The other is that this is such a seriously awful film that it does occasionally flirt with swinging back into so-bad-it’s-good territory, like The Room or perhaps even capturing a touch of Starship Troopers. You’ll scarcely believe how utterly codshit some of the one-liners that make their way into the script are, and if you weren’t having your spare time so shamelessly wasted you might even find it amusing. My heart goes out to the mixed quality of actors that have to work with it, but I honestly cannot understand whose passion project this might be and how it was ever willed into existence.
Ultimately, the only thing Occupation manages to occupy is the bottom of my 400+ list of science fiction films. Well done.