You need to watch the most underrated alien thriller on Netflix ASAP
“I fear that the worst is yet to come.”
The best sci-fi movies are the ones that throw you in the deep end. Yeah, maybe there’s an opening narration to establish a little context, but there’s nothing worse than a movie spending the first half-hour introducing devices and characters when that time could be used on exciting action and worldbuilding.
That’s why there’s an appeal to watching sci-fi sequels without watching their predecessors. They’re made to be watched on their own, but assume fans know what they’re getting into. That often makes for more effective and streamlined storytelling, like in this movie now streaming on Netflix.
Occupation: Rainfall is a 2020 Australian sci-fi battle movie written and directed by Luke Sparke. The sequel to the 2018 film Occupation, it follows a group of humans as they continue to fight off an alien invasion, this time with some key alien allies who just want the conflict to be over.
The Australian setting may project the image of an indie sci-fi film, but don’t be mistaken. Rainfall’s got all the firepower of a Tom Cruise movie thanks to a cast boasting iconic Star Wars actor (and upcoming Disney+ star) Temuera Morrison, Harry Potter alum Jason Isaacs, and even Community’s Ken Jeong in a cameo role.
As a sequel, there’s no need to waste precious screentime on why the aliens are here; they just are, and the characters need to figure out what brought them here. The answer is Rainfall, a codeword for an American base that contains something the aliens are after. But getting there will require drastic measures.
Because of the scope of the action and Temuera Morrison’s involvement, Occupation: Rainfall has garnered comparisons to Star Wars. In fact, thanks to the film’s (relatively) lofty $25 million budget, artists who previously worked on The Last Jedi contributed to the special effects.
Like all the best sequels, Occupation: Rainfall doesn’t scale down its story in the fear that interest may have lessened. Instead, it bets big and goes bigger, with Sparke sinking much of his own money into the production. “I said to everyone, this time I’m going to write something big,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “And don’t worry, we’ll figure it out after I write it just how we’re going to actually achieve it.”
Achieve it he did. The first Occupation movie found success on Netflix, and Sparke seems convinced the sequel is bound for the same renown. “Everywhere I went with an audience, everyone seemed to have a good time. Which a film like this is all about,” he told Supanova.
The joy of Occupation: Rainfall is in how much fun you can tell its creators had. The film has all the hallmarks of a good space opera, combining rollicking acting with deep reflections on morality and what it means to be human. The story can be gory one second and psychological the next, and with room for jokes (like the aliens with names like “Gary” and “Steve.”)
This is a movie that studied the classics, but doesn’t want to do anything derivative. The aliens working among the humans face prejudice, but it never feels hacky like the ham-fisted allegory in Netflix’s Bright. Instead of a preachy fable it feels like how a man would act cautious or angry around his enemy.
Sparke is already hard at work on another sequel, so now’s the perfect time to dive into this franchise before it evolves from a fledgling duology to an epic trilogy. Just as the sequel started gaining traction after the first film was successful on Netflix, watching this will signal even more support for a third chapter in this story from down under.
If you’re tired of the same handful of franchises and want to watch something original but still sophisticated, dive straight into the Occupation universe with this alien military thriller.
Occupation: Rainfall is now streaming on Netflix.