Panic Attack! (Ataque de pánico!) (2009)

panic_attack_vnspired by the online short film “Geweldenaren van Ver,” director Federico Alvarez’s short film (made under a five hundred dollar budget) is yet another tale of indie success that most independent directors can only dream of. Uruguayan director Alvarez posted this short film on Youtube back in 2009 and after the video was posted on rapper Kanye West’s blog, it garnered an immense fanbase, currently has over five million views on Youtube, and Alvarez experienced surprising success, “I uploaded Panic Attack! on a Thursday and on Monday my inbox was totally full of e-mails from Hollywood studios,” said Alvarez. Now he’s been given a contract by Sam Raimi’s studio “Ghost House Pictures.”

What is the film about? Well, it has no plot actually, it’s really just an exercise in carnage and special effects that is a throwback to the classic alien invasion films of the golden age of cinema. The short does have the capability of being something more feature length but for what it is, it’s rather excellent. Enlisting as much realism as possible the mysterious invasion that occurs in Uruguay by an alien menace is rather intense as Alvarez pushes for as much grit as possible. His photography and direction is immaculate as he begins the film on a young boy playing with toy robots and then contrasts that by zooming back to reveal some amazing giant robot drones stomping their way through the city in the mist. From there the movie opens up to reveal an incredible alien invasion ensuing where the invaders waste no time and make no attempt to contact the population.

They simply release the lions on the unsuspecting populace. As news reporters rave frantically in front of the camera, and local residents capture the historic event on film, it becomes clear that we’re just bugs being exterminated as giant robots and fighter crafts storm the skies bringing down famous landmarks, federal buildings, and then releasing the ultimate weapon that annihilates the world signaling that this is only the beginning. One thing that I found quite irritating that nagged at me a bit is that the armed forces are able to assemble their fighter jets so quickly. I mean when did this all start, really? Did they have time to assemble to fight back? If so, why does everyone else in the city look surprised by this attack? Wouldn’t it take literal hours for the military to bounce back and fight them off? And where did the aliens come from? Are they aliens?

They’re minute flaws, but flaws that itched at me nonetheless. For only a three hundred dollar budget the special effects are absolutely incredible and on par with the effects from “Independence Day.” It’s astounding how startling the events that play out are and Alvarez simply succeeds in depicting an event that seems rather probable if ever really considered by the audience. If you examine this film from a critical standpoint then you’re likely to notice it has zero story, but if you take it for what it is, it’s really a great science fiction short that works on so many levels. I loved it. In spite of some glaring flaws, this is a truly great short science fiction film that speaks volumes about the potential many independent undiscovered filmmakers have and what they’re capable of creating. I look forward to Alvarez’s future in feature filmmaking and I hope he continues delivering quality genre entertainment.