Rated R, 108 min. Directed by Christian Alvart. Starring Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Cam Gigandet, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Norman Reedus.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 2, 2009
To this day I get grief from certain quarters for awarding Paul W.S. Anderson's sci-fi horror show Event Horizon two stars back in 1997, which, apparently for a not-unsizable percentage of horror and sci-fi fans, was two stars too many. This, despite the fact that I took pains to also label the soon-to-be-much-reviled Anderson's work "a steadily churning debacle" and "a bloody mess." So let me be clear this time out: Pandorum is bad. It's nearly bad enough to make Anderson's film, from which it borrows heavily (along with The Descent and Roger Corman's Galaxy of Terror and many other, better films) look downright Kubrickian in its space-oddityness, but not quite. Quaid and Foster play Payton and Bower, two space travelers who awake from hypersleep in the bowels of a gigantic, seemingly empty vessel that's powering down fast. Initially, neither astronaut has any idea of how they came to be in their present situation, or even what that situation might entail, but soon enough, flashbacks and a pair of other crew members (Traue and Le, who bear ill tidings and grave faces) arrive to flesh out a plot that until this point bears a strong resemblance to an old episode of The Twilight Zone (second film to do so this week, bizarrely – in this instance, Rod Serling's series pilot, "Where Is Everybody?"). In all fairness, the sheer, overwhelming mediocrity of everything about Pandorum – Travis Milloy's hackneyed, ultra-derivative script, Alvart's plodding pacing and dull direction, even the eventual crimson tide of gore that duly arrives just in time to keep audience members over the age of 13 from dozing off – may well constitute a new breed of horror: In space, no one can hear you snore.