Sommerleigh Pollonais – Horror Head Writer
They say Truth is always stranger than Fiction, so here’s some truths for you. The Soviet Space Race had A LOT of cover ups! From launching dogs into space with no real intention of getting them back safely (here’s to believing they survived and are all romping happily together on Pluto…get it? Pluto? ) to cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, maybe NOT being the first man in space…just the first to survive! And then of course there were all of the rushed space launches, with rockets that had no business being launched in the first place, so they could beat the United States in putting a man on the moon. Safety be damned.
Yeah Russia is pretty good at covering up heinous shite so when I came across Sputnik, a movie about a lone survivor of a Russian space team who returns home with a dangerous creature hiding inside him like the worst Uber passenger ever, I just had to watch it.
First thing first, this movie looks great! The timeline here is the 80s and director Egor Abramenko and his crew did a stellar job of making this movie look and feel like it was the Soviet Union in that period of time. The movie also has a washed out colour pallet which added to the feeling of isolation, secrecy and melancholy we tend to associate with Russia in that timeline. If you’ve seen the perfection that was HBO’s Chernobyl mini-series, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
The special effects here were top notch, something I don’t see a lot of with Russian sci-fi movies. Take one of their most recent ones, The Blackout. It looked decent but it still felt like I was watching a foreign version of Battleship and that’s not a movie I ever want to think about again! Here, the alien looks, well, alien. Brought to life by both practical and computer generated effects the alien is well realised, from the movement to the way it communicated. And then of course there’s the horror elements which, like the alien effects, delivered in spades.
The downside to the movie lies in its tone though, as the actors are doing their best to bounce back and forth between the dramatic and the horrific elements in the story. You can tell there’s a deeper meaning to what’s being shown, with a lot of the focus being put on how the Russian government and military are willing to go to any lengths to cover up what really happened to our protagonist, with little care as to his safety or his freedom. But the problem with this is, it wants to be both Alien and Chernobyl, two VERY DIFFERENT types of stories with very different emotional beats.
So…while I DO recommend watching Sputnik, I’m pretty certain general audiences will label it as “boring” or tedious to watch. And to be honest, I can’t say they’re wrong, to a point. The second act of this movie is messy, but the first and final parts are strong. And if you’re a fan of retro sci-fi movies with deeper meanings (Logan’s Run, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Soylent Green etc) I say, give it a go!
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
For the Top 10 Sci Fi Horror Movies Of All Time you can click here.
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apoclaypse come.
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