Netflix is the place to catch all the best dramas under one streaming roof and now, sci-fi fans have yet another high-octane piece to add to their queue. Finding a home alongside other favorites, including the streamer’s celebrated original series Black Mirror, is Nic Matheiu’s 2016 sci-fi thriller, Spectral. Jam-packed with plenty of action, the film follows a life-or-death showdown between the military and supernatural invaders.
Billed as a supernatural Black Hawk Down, Spectral has all the elements of a high-stakes war flick with a fun and topsy-turvy supernatural element thrown in.
Spectral stars a lineup of faces that viewers have undoubtedly spotted in other similar action pieces including James Badge Dale (24, The Departed), Emily Mortimer (Scream 3, Shutter Island), Max Martini (Saving Private Ryan), Bruce Greenwood (Thirteen Days, Star Trek), and Clayne Crawford (Rectify).
Billed as a supernatural Black Hawk Down, Spectral has all the elements of a high-stakes war flick with a fun and topsy-turvy supernatural element thrown in. In it, audiences are brought into the European country of Moldova, a place that is torn apart by civil unrest. With the United States attempting to shut down an insurgency, both forces are flipped upside down when an entirely new opposition threatens their safety.
The sci-fi aspect comes through the inability to spot the invaders with the naked eye alone, causing panic and fear to spread as – without being able to see the enemy – how can the armed forces begin to battle them? When conspiracy theories start to fly about who or what is really behind these strange and powerful enemies, audiences join the pulse-pounding thrill ride of picking apart the truth from the fabrication. One thing is for sure – Spectral keeps viewers guessing until the very end.
Spectral performed so well for the platform that Netflix greenlit a prequel – just not in the typical sense.
While the cast and crew of Spectral had their eyes set on a release courtesy of Universal Pictures, the distributor would ultimately back out, leaving the title up in the air. Swooping in to save the day was none other than Netflix, who happily added the production to its lineup of content. Dropping the feature in late 2016, it quickly found a home with streaming fans happy to catch the action without leaving home.
Sitting on Rotten Tomatoes with a 78 percent critics rating, Spectral was a success for the streamer, drawing in crowds that would have otherwise perhaps skipped seeing it in theaters. In fact, it performed so well for the platform that Netflix greenlit a prequel – just not in the typical sense. Titled Spectral: Ghosts of War, 2017 saw the arrival of a comic that told the precursor story to the film which was made available on ComiXology.
Netflix Sci-Fi Offerings
While Netflix was already the home of incredible originals, the last few years since Spectral has seen an uptick of the streamer putting out sci-fi productions with big followings. From the Sandra Bullock-led thriller Bird Box (which has since kicked off an entire franchise) to the more recently released Jamie Foxx, John Boyega, and Teyonah Parris-led They Cloned Tyrone, the streamer is dedicated to bringing its fans the best of the best when it comes to cutting edge sci-fi flicks.
The best part of it all is these films were all created with the small screen in mind, giving viewers the full theatrical feeling without needing to trek to the cinema.
2016 was a solid year for the streamer as Spectral found itself alongside a wide array of other terrific films to catch from the comfort of your own couch. Fans of biopics were able to learn a thing or two about President Barack Obama in the film Barry, while Juno co-stars Elliott Page and Allison Janney brought the drama and the laughs in Sian Heder’s Tallulah.
Those seeking more thrills could also sink their teeth into productions including Rebirth, ARQ, Mercy, and The Siege of Jadotville, as well as horror flicks like I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.
What started as a DVD rental service has blossomed into a full-blown place for films to find their forever home as Netflix continuously ups the ante on what’s possible in the world of straight-to-streamer releases.
With Spectral, the platform found a hit that became its win and Universal’s loss. And, as the streamer launches upcoming releases including Grant Singer’s Reptile, Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon, Wes Anderson’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, David Yates’s Pain Hustlers, and David Fincher’s The Killer, Netflix is giving major motion picture studios a run for their money.