"There are no aliens to be found in Area 51." So says the military commander (Bruce Boxleitner) of the place, in a statement that almost guarantees major extraterrestrial mayhem is about to commence. As 51
opens, a journalist (Vanessa Branch) and a politician (John Shea) are embarking on a top-secret tour of the fabled research unit, and at that exact moment the alien residents decide to stage a little rebellion. One of the creatures can shape-shift (à la The Thing
), which means the human fighters can't trust their eyes. This "After Dark" straight-to-video installment is surprisingly competent: director Jason Connery (yes, Sean's actor son) exploits the straightforward situation in trim, efficient fashion, and an unusual number of dialogue exchanges are actually involving. In other words, the actions of the characters might make no sense, but at least they sound good performing them. Jason London and Rachel Miner fill out the cast as soldiers (respectively dopey and tough) who must rise to the occasion when faced with an otherworldly foe. It probably helps to go in with low expectations, but this contained little thriller is a cut above the general run of such things. --Robert Horton
Pressure is mounting on the Air Force concerning their most secretive base, Area 51, used to house elusive Ã¢â¬Ålong-term visitors.Ã¢â¬Â Bowing to political and public pressure, two reporters are granted limited access to the facility. But when one of the Ã¢â¬ÅvisitorsÃ¢â¬Â uses the visit as a chance to liberate himself and fellow captives, Area 51 turns from a secure government base to a horrifying destination of terror.