2009, 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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Christian Alvart Films
Case 39
Renée Zellweger stars as a social worker who protects a child whose family has created dark forces around her.

Marc Savlov, Oct. 8, 2010

More by Marc Savlov
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Intimate, semi-improvised last night at a dive bar sees delight in the dregs

July 24, 2020

Hill of Freedom
Delicate South Korean tale of love lost and found finally gets U.S. release

June 12, 2020


Pandorum, Christian Alvart, Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Cam Gigandet, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Norman Reedus

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle