Despite too many cheap, sound-cue scares and a slow-boil plot that veers between tension and tedium, Pandorum—a dead-serious, horror/sci-fi pastiche that borrows, if unimaginatively, from everything from Alien to WALL-E—gets sort of interesting. Flight engineers Corporal Bower (Ben Foster) and Colonel Payton (Dennis Quaid) awake from a years-long “hyper-sleep” aboard the Elysium, a massive spacecraft launched from the increasingly uninhabitable planet Earth in 2174. With no memory of their mission, they find themselves in an abandoned wing of the craft, a predicament they discuss at great and scintillating length (“It’s cold in here!” Payton declares. “It’s fucking dark in here!” Bower retorts). Eventually, Bower ventures out to get the 411, encountering mummified corpses of his fellow crewmembers and then the gooey, writhing mutants marauding through the craft in search of human flesh. A team slowly materializes out of the terrorized survivors Bower meets on his way to try and reset the craft on its course to Tanis, an Earth-like planet. Much slimy mutant-battle ensues. Director Christian Alvart clearly attended horror’s new paint-shaker school of direction (motto: shaky = scary!), but the script’s twisty, end-of-the-world intrigue saves this otherwise leaden film from total self-destruction.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 22, 2009