Detention becomes survival for five students trapped in a high school with Space Ninja assassins. This B movie comedy slash horror follows these misfit heroes trying to survive the night from an alien invasion.
Crotchless, carbon dioxide hunting, ninjas from space that look like they could be backups in Daft Punk are coming to invade your screens… and a highschool’s Saturday detention hall… in writer/director Scott McQuaid’s delightful sci-fi film, Space Ninjas (2019). This satirical alien invasion venture let’s loose the gates of dark comedy as it has students, dead-inside adults, and a quirky science teacher face-off with ninjas in a battle royale for their lives.
Space Ninjas follows a small group of students on one Saturday where they have all been stuck with detention. The film stars a cast of young newcomers: Yi Jane, Damien Zachary, Mia Sara Shauki, Cassandra Food Wern Yen, Amirul Afiq Bin Amri. It is your typical line up of highschool archetypes, something like right out of The Breakfast Club — a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, a criminal, and even a pompous school official overseeing their detention who assigns them a condescending essay to write as punishment. However, from this familiar set up in the beginning, the narrative takes a sharp left turn into Aliens (1986) territory and goes off the rails about 15 minutes in.
Space Ninjas is narrated by the Twilight Zone-like host Jack Strange (Dirk Benedict, yes, from The A-Team show), who introduces the night’s happenings as a true event on his show, “Stranger Than Fiction”. According to the show, one Saturday a group of high schoolers are all saddled with doing time in overnight detention. Deputy Head of the School Mr. Hughes (Razif Hashim) tasks them with writing lines as punishment, but the students have other plans of picking on each other. Just as their clashing personalities are growing tensions in the room to a high, the building begins to shake and they hear Mr. Hughes screaming in his office, signaling that they are not alone. The students discover that with the power out that they are trapped within the school’s electric fences with nearly-invisible beings who seem to want them dead. One by one the students, as well as a few adults working overnight, begin getting picked off by the elite invaders until they find that if they do not breathe the ninjas at least cannot see them. Of course, they can’t hold their breath forever, and despite their mad scientist Professor Rosencrantz’s (Brian Narelle) attempts to use his experiments to save them, the remaining students realize they must fight back in order to survive through the night and escape the school.
What surprised me about the film is how absurdly silly yet charming it is; the combination of outlandish happenings and sci-fi and adventure made for an entertaining watch. Had it taken itself seriously it would have been terrible, however, it is apparent the film is laughing at itself as it breaks the 4th wall, the characters seem to know what character they are playing, such as the brain, Zack, saying “but I’m the likable one”, and a plethora of pop-culture references, such as the Men in Black, Transformers, and even Shakespeare. There’s lots of adrenaline thanks to McQuaid’s fast-paced style and framing, particularly during the student vs. space ninja fights, which feature probably the biggest katana sword ever seen on film. My only gripe is that Dirk Benedict’s character seemed shoe-horned into the story, the film doesn’t need that movie within a show aspect, and it came off more confusing than adding to the silliness of the film.
If you like B movies, The Breakfast Club, Battle Royale (2000), or lots of bloody deaths then you might just get a kick out of this film. Meta, fun, and with a title as ridiculous as its narrative, Space Ninjas may have you asking why this random movie was even made and what is it trying to say, but just go with it, sit back, and be entertained along the fun and gory ride! As writer/director Scott McQuaid’s first project according to IMDb, Space Ninjas was surprisingly stylish, well-paced, and heartfelt. Space out and catch it on Amazon now!