“This discovery changes everything.” While space exploration movies like Gravity and Europa Report have been getting a lot of cyber ink these days, a relatively unknown sci-fi horror film out of the U.K. that has been catching our eye. The first teaser trailer for Last Days on Mars has emerged and it is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing, but only on Mars instead of an Antarctic research station.
Irish filmmaker Ruairi Robinson’s directorial debuted premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France a few months ago, bringing hints of Ridley Scott’s Alien in terms of eeriness and propulsive tone. But sadly, the film has received middling to negative early reviews coming out of the festival. Most critics give the film points for outstanding visuals, but also knock it for being too derivative, as it explores well-worn material. Twitch’s Brian Clark said:
While Robinson clearly knows his way around digital landscapes — the epic establishing shots and exploration scenes look fantastic — he has no sense of pacing or suspense, and almost as little skill for directing monster-attacks. The action is mostly incoherent and surprisingly bloodless.
On the slightly more positive side, Rope of Silicon’s Brad Brevet thought the film might make a good midnight selection. So it seems like tempering your expectations is key to enjoying Last Days on Mars. Brevet writes:
What follows is essentially a zombie film in a sci-fi setting. Nothing more, nothing less… understanding what the rest of the film would entail, but at the same time was disappointed it wasn’t something more.
Where the film does excel is visually, though I’m sure Robinson will end up losing a few points for the opening dust storm after something similar was just seen in Prometheus. But the end result is effective in selling scope as well as the team’s familiarity with the landscape as they hardly budge at seeing such a sight.
Based on author Sydney J. Bounds’ sci-fi short story “The Animators,” the story follows a crew of astronauts on a mission to collect rock specimens on Mars. But before the secondary crew arrives to relieve them of their duty, two astronauts go back to one of the excavation sites and discover something deadly on the Red Planet.
Robinson stated that his first work was influenced by the work of Paul Greengrass, Sergio Leone, and Michael Mann, and he wanted to create a claustrophobic tone that resembles Alien (which I guess explains the trailer). Interestingly, Robinson was at one time attached to direct the live-action Akira adaptation for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions and Warner Bros. Ultimately, Robinson left the project to helm Last Days on Mars.
Last Days on Mars has a great cast including Liev Schreiber, Romola Garai, Elias Koteas, Olivia Williams, Johnny Harris, Goran Kostić, Tom Cullen, and Yusra Warsama. While there is no release date set for the U.S., the film hits theaters in the U.K. on September 19. Hopefully it would be released soon in America. Check out Robinson’s short film Blinky below