I’ve always loved space horrors ever since Alien. James Cameron’s follow-up Aliens reignited my love affair even if that film was geared more toward action. Event Horizon was probably the first film that actually got into my head enough to keep me awake until morning.
The idea of being on a lonely planet or spaceship with monsters that want to do horrible things to you echoes the true foundation of all horrors – but especially space horrors: isolation. It’s one thing to be stuck in a remote cabin in the woods or caught in some creepy town in the desert, but space is an entirely different matter. It’s well understood that you can’t survive in space. While the same result is inevitable in other horror scenarios that prevent the characters from leaving the main area – like a blizzard, let’s say – there’s still a chance for survival. The characters have a choice between defeating the blood-thirsty monster or surviving a hike through sub-zero temperatures before freezing to death. The choices both suck, but choice – no matter how false – still sparks a bit of hope and sometimes that’s all heroes need to save the day.
Space, on the other hand, offers no such comfort. Heroes in this sad situation must face their worst fears, because there is no choice. There is no hope. There’s only action. It’s glorious to behold people overcoming their fear to do what needs to be done to survive. There is, of course, the other creepy factor of space horrors and that is the fact that most of the plots involve being on some kind largely populated craft that is now empty. Where are the people? Dead? Then where are the bodies? Devoured by monsters. Used as hosts to birth more monsters. Morphing into monsters. Take your pick. They all suck. The bottom line is that it’s scary to be in a place where people should be, but are not. So that brings us to Pandorum starring Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster.
From the Official Synopsis:
Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It’s pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They can’t remember anything: Who are they? What is their mission?
With Lt. Payton (Quaid) staying behind to guide him via radio transmitter, Cpl. Bower (Foster) ventures deep into the ship and begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Slowly the spacecraft’s shocking, deadly secrets are revealed…and the astronauts find their own survival is more important than they could ever have imagined.
The trailer seems to confirm that the missing crew is turning into the monsters that our heroes will face. The story also reminds me of a couple of video games with a similar basic plot. The first is System Shock 2 which had the player in the role of a soldier that was awakened from cryo-sleep to deal with an alien infestation. The other game is the more recent Dead Space which cast the player as a combat engineer sent to repair a disabled spacecraft only to find that it’s been overrun by the crew-turned-aliens. All the while, the player is guided by another character from a control station.
In any event, I’m excited to see Pandorum. I am a little frightened by the fact that the film won’t be screened by the press ahead of its public release, but I’m assured that it’s because the studio doesn’t want any spoilers leaked. Pandorum opens on September 25.