Australia isn’t exactly renowned for producing large-scale action or science fiction blockbusters. The notable exception to the rule is the Mad Max trilogy. However, it’s a country which has given birth to a number of thoughtful and intelligent genre movies. The likes of Predestination, The Rover, These Final Hours and The Infinite Man have demonstrated that imagination is often much more important than budget. Luke Sparke’s new film Occupation has big ambitions and feels epic in scale whilst feeling grounded in reality.

In a small town in rural Australia nothing much happens and the residents are caught up in their own personal soap operas. Today, however, that will change. In the middle of their annual celebrations, uninvited guests appear. Aliens, to be exact, and they haven’t come for the cotton candy. Friends, enemies and strangers must come together if they have any chance of survival. Unfortunately, the odds are very much stacked against them.

Whilst Occupation isn’t going to be troubling Independence Day or Close Encounters of the Third Kind either in box office takings or quality, the sheer audacity to undertake such an ambitious project is breathtaking. It does feels episodic in structure and some of the effects leave a lot to be desired, but it’s difficult not to get behind Sparke’s film. These niggles are outweighed by the heart, energy and effort which has gone into making Occupation.

Occupation is released on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital by Altitude Film Entertainment on 21 January.

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