Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror (apparently), Action
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Antje Traue
Director: Christian Alvert
Going in with little expectations, I’d seen comparisons to ‘Event Horizon’ and ‘Alien’ and this was all that I needed. Instead, I’ll make my own film comparison: Doom. Though actually, that might be doing ‘Doom’ a disservice, as even that didn’t have any pretences of being more than a bad action film adaptation of a video game. I’d like to at least call this film somewhat intelligent, but it isn’t; the characters still panic despite holding the only gun, they still sit around and wait for the last possible opportunity to open the door and it doesn’t even take fifteen minutes before they decide splitting up is the best course of action. This is even taken a step further when you notice that certain characters will disappear from entire scenes only to reappear again without explanation, as though someone simply forgot to write him in.
With little to really say as far as plot is concerned, the film centres on two crew members who awake to discover that monsters have got loose on the ship and all the survivors have resorted to whatever steps necessary to survive, and as an added annoyance, the only mechanic aboard the vessel of 60,000 needs to service the reactor before it spontaneously combusts. At first impression, the choice to use less unnatural light, and instead use as much ‘ship lighting’ as possible was a good one, but – like the director – I didn’t quite think it through. Ignoring the amount of light the glo-sticks gave off, just how many does the lead guy have? Did they forget to mention that in the future all human waste is reproduced into an artificial light source?
The acting is made difficult to truly judge; on the one hand all that was really required of them is that they keep moving, slamming headfirst into dangerous situations for no other apparent reason than it might make for an interesting scene, and they managed that happily enough. Exploring the ship that from what we could see, had more attention paid to it than anything else, running away from monsters that were often all too painfully in view, altogether nothing too difficult. On the other hand, if at any point they tried to evoke any sympathy for the audience they failed miserably. There was only one character that I actually cared about, and that’s only because she was too damn pretty to die.
The budget has visibly gone to work, but sadly in all the wrong places; the nice elaborate looking doors, panels, weapons, even a nifty ‘laser shaver,’ all nice little touches, but not even close to resolving the issue of the monsters, looking as though they believed they could slap together some bad CGI instead of choosing the shots to leave more to the imagination. The ‘monsters,’ too, were really just zombies – the kind in ‘I am Legend’ or ‘Descent.’ Stupid, flesh eating, rabid dog-like zombies that crawled around the side walls and ceilings like we’ve seen in so many other action film this decade, (not that you always actually see them thanks to the rapidly moving camera work) moving at a blistering pace with the knowledge of how to use torches and replace the batteries but not how to open a fucking door.
But ok, so they messed up on the actual execution but they could still get some points for a decent script, if they hadn’t buggered that up too. There were simply too many aspects that we are told a snippet of information that never gets elaborated on,  and the aspects that were elaborated on had all the impact of returning from the store and remembering you forgot to buy milk, attaining a mild ‘oh damn’ reaction at best, assuming of course that you actually cared either way (which you probably wont). Hell, the ‘big reveal’ (which, by the way, can be pretty much guessed within the first half an hour, which is pretty pathetic irrespective of the film) doesn’t even feel original, coming almost straight out of another film. 
As a horror this is absolutely pathetic, the psychological aspect more puzzling than terrifying – hell they couldn’t even get the ‘shock’ scares right, if I can’t see what’s happening what is there to be scared of? The echoing sounds of a toddler crying? Go in looking for a sci-fi, it’s a homage to better films at best. Instead this fares best as a big budget action; the kind which is so frenetically cut that you have no idea who is hitting who, where the ‘dark’ atmosphere is literal enough to prevent you from seeing anything more than rapidly moving outlines for the ‘intense’ scenes, and in that state of mind where you can shut down your brain before it demands some form of coherency, asking for the answers to all the questions the director decided to slap in your face before walking off. Want horror? Go look up how many films Angelina Jolie has lined up. Now that’s scary.
Below: The cast's reaction to the finished film.
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- “It was a drug designed to promote evolution” is all the information we get for the monsters existence, coupled with the knowledge that they were there for 900 years. Yeah, that isn’t leaving it vague with a ‘because its sci-fi we don’t need to explain ourselves’ attitude.
- The lead woman said she awoke with four others, and where are they? But how silly of me, why would I expect you to tell me what happened when you haven’t even told me your name yet?
- “By the way, whilst you guys were napping the earth blew up and everyone’s currently dead. I just thought we’d call you from beyond the grave to let you know what happened. PSYCH! HAHAHAHA-” end transmission
- The lead goes on a quest to save his wife…whom he later remembers left him shortly before he left. If I had any sympathy for the character, I admit this might have had some small impact, but instead it felt more like ‘whoops’ moment.
- They describe ‘Pandorum’ as a severe debilitating mental illness brought on by paranoia of deep space feeding the unconscious mind. So what they’re really saying is that they made up a word to describe the cliché of insanity.
- Event Horizon. The main engineer in both films turned out to be the ‘big bad guy,’ both were set in space with similar monsters, both began with questions after cryosleep/hypersleep, both had actually arrived at their destination (although in Event Horizon, it had come back), both ended by cracking the hull of the ship to kill the bad guy, shall I continue?