So, I guess I like space. It’s got planets and rocks and gas, and maybe even some aliens! What’s not to love? Time dilation, wormholes, black holes (apparently space has a bunch of holes), and all that other physics stuff that make it both mind boggling and bending. Mind bogglending. Maybe I should give up writing.
Anyway, there seems to be a lot going on in space right now. We’ve had a pretty intergalactic year with Chris Hadfield, commander of the International Space station, the Curiosity rover, that moon explosion, and the Sun’s solar storms. Hollywood has followed suit, and is now launching several space thrillers that look decently space-tastic.
Following up my trailer review of the upcoming film Gravity, which looks intense and visually stunning, I’m now taking a look at Europa Report. Europe Report looks equally intense and visually stunning, but that’s where my comparison of the two end; shit blows up in space and someone dies. Where Gravity attempts to take a more ‘realistic’ (by current space standards, anyway), approach to fear in space, Europa Report delves a little deeper into the “fi,” and attempts to address the question of “are we alone in the universe?”
The plot follows a group of space explorers sent to Jupiter’s moon Europa to see if they can find any evidence of microbial life beneath the moon’s icy surface. They arrive to clearly discover that there is more to that theory than meets the eye. One explorer discovers something, we assume she dies in some horrible fashion, and then everything starts to go to shit. I’m always game for a good space thriller, but on this aspect of the film, I’m not so sure how the plot will pan out. Will it end up being a stupid space bug? Or will it be more horrific? Maybe the creature will never be revealed. For me, at least, the scariest things are the things we cannot understand, cannot see, the things that let our minds drift and roam to what we find most terrifying. If they do end up defining this horror lurking beneath the ice, hopefully it is brief and amorphous.
Another aspect of Europa Report which seems intriguing from its trailer is the cinematography. From what I’ve gleaned from the few minutes I’ve seen, the movie appears to be shot more like a “found footage” film, making use of clips from television interviews, shots from the astronaut’s helmet cameras, and security cameras on the ship. There are even a bunch of scenes where it appears as if the characters themselves are being interviewed, as if Europa Report is a documentary about the Europa expedition. Parts of the Europa Report trailer even resemble District 9 - however, I’m not sure if that’s just the filming style or if it’s because I can’t separate Sharlto Copely from his character Wikus of the same film.
The documentary aspect aside, I’m not much of a fan of found footage horror, and space found footage was attempted and failed at in Apollo 18. That doesn’t mean I don’t think found footage can be done well, as I am a big fan of the [REC] films. If Europa Report is able to pull off visuals as real and terrifying as those in [REC], only in space, we may actually have something on our hands.
One final thing that lasted with me from the trailer was a quote from one of its characters: “Compared to the breadth of knowledge yet to be known, does your life really matter?” A chilling thought, but something we are likely to be questioning more and more as our space exploration begins to travel further into the unknown. In fact, it’s already happening today – with over 78,000 people applying for a one way ticket to mars if that’s the case now, just to visit mars, what will we be willing to sacrifice in the coming decades for the chance to find life?
Anyway, check out the trailer below and let me know what you think!