RogerBW's Blog

Atomica 28 March 2022

2017 SF horror, dir. Dagen Merrill, Sarah Habel, Dominic Monaghan: IMDb / allmovie. Something's amiss at a nuclear power plant… of the future.

This is a Syfy film that actually got a theatrical release, and it's very clear where the limited budget went: Dominic Monaghan is a name people may actually have heard before, and so is Tom Sizemore who comes in for the final act, but most importantly the majority of the film is shot on location in what I believe is an old Titan I missile base, and while the set dressing is scanty what there is of it is pretty good. (Though it never looks anything like plausible controls for a nuclear power plant, not even of the future.)

They certainly didn't put much of that money towards a script.

It's trying to be a psychological thriller: Abby the tech gets the alert that the plant (in the middle of a radiation-contaminated zone, which it's supposedly helping to clean up) has dropped out of communication, and because nobody else is on duty (Christmas, which is never mentioned again) gets to go out and fix it even though she isn't field-qualified. One of the two resident crew greets her with suspicion and a golf club, and is clearly a bit twitchy; the other has vanished. That's not suspicious at all. Is he just a bit isolated after a long posting, or actually dangerously mad? (She doesn't seem to mind when he stares creepily at her in the PG-13 shower scene, though.)

But really the location is the star here. There's lots of running down corridors, sure, but they're decently atmospheric corridors, and stairs that descend into the middle of large empty rooms, and they all have a feeling of reality that the occasional CGI add-ins just can't match. Unfortunately what's played out against this gorgeous backdrop feels like an am-dram two-hander that somehow has professional actors in it; Monaghan plays blatantly sketchy, while Habel comes up with her best wide-eyed Sandra Bullock circa Demolition Man, the company woman who is shocked, shocked that she might not know the whole truth. (Spoiler, I guess.) Sizemore spends most of his screen time reclining on a bed; I wonder if that was in his contract. The cast is a little bigger, but those are the only three who get significant screen time, and they're all doing the best they can with the script. Three people contributed to this screenplay and I think they were trying to rip off Moon or maybe Passengers, but without any real understanding of how they worked. Such a shame. Watch it for the location.

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