From the space monsters of the 50’s in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, It Came from Outer Space and a million other B-movie’s to the psychedelic unsettling sci-fi of the 60’s and 70’s such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and the original Solyaris bang up to present day classics like Cube, Pitch Black and Event Horizon it has always been true that in space no one can hear you scream.
The Thing, Scanners and Alien are all movie masterpieces none of which could have ever existed without the essential elements they took from both sci-fi and horror. It seems the two genres are inextricably linked and although both work separately when a talented writer or director chooses to blend them the result are often more imaginative and horrific monsters, more barren and nightmarish locations and more terrifying and unimaginable scenarios which test the human psyche to its limits and beyond.
Pandorum is another movie which sits astride the two genres using conventions and staples from both to fashion a frightful and fun filled film. Set aboard a giant spaceship drifting a trillion miles from earth two astronauts Payton (Dennis Quaid) and Bower (X-men 3 and 30 Days of Night star Ben Foster) awaken from hypersleep disorientated and somehow seemingly alone.
With Payton staying behind to guide him Bower ventures deep into the gloomy bowels of the vast ship to try to reactivate its dying generators and find out what has happened during the time they have missed. On his travels he encounters distorted dead bodies and strange malformed fast-moving creatures with superhuman strength and a taste for human flesh.
Fighting for survival and against the onset of the space madness condition they call ‘Pandorum’ slowly he starts to learn the twisted truth behind the dark and horrific secrets of the ship and the doomed fate humanity could suffer if he fails to complete his mission.
German director and co-writer Christian Alvart wears his stylistic influences on his spacesuit sleeve and the industrial look and claustrophobic feel of Pandorum is pure Ridley Scott circa 1979 to 82.
Other evident inspirations decrease the films originality, especially the monsters that look like cyber punk versions of the cave crawlers from The Descent, but luckily several elements save Pandorum from bargain bin banality principally the inventive story and the excellent cast which includes some great performances and interesting and offbeat characters.
The pacing is pitch perfect moving seamlessly from the silent scary opening which brilliantly simulates the disorientation of the characters, to the tense early scenes which are sprinkled with a healthy dose of kick ass fight scenes, steadily building to the climax which delivers action and answers all in one.
Pandorum may not be as unique or mind-blowing as some other classic horror sci-fi films but it is entertaining and at times genuinely unnerving and a must for any fans of spooky sci-fi with frenetic fight scenes.
It is also perfect example of the symbiosis that has emerged throughout years of the two genre’s being blended. Long may the two merge to create even more horror hybrids packed with evil aliens and spooky space ships.