“FEAR. SACRIFICE. CONTACT.”
Category: Found Footage, Sci-Fi
Directed by: Sebastián Cordero
Written by: Philip Gelatt
Starring: Christian Camargo, Anamaria Marinca, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, Karolina Wydra, Sharlto Copley, Embeth Davidtz, Dan Fogler, Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Music: Bear McCreary
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak
Europa Report emphasizes the science in sci-fi with this slow burning film the defies the conventions of typical sci/horror films. Despite a misleading trailer that may make this seem like an action packed thriller, it’s not and the body count isn’t accumulated by a psycho killer or alien inhabitants. Well in the traditional sense. But in saying that, don’t think that this isn’t a tense movie that won’t keep you on the edge of your seat. Director Sebastián Cordero is able to create a tense, engaging film without having to rely on big bad monsters, gunfights, or gore.
Shot in a non-linear format, the story is about the fate of six astronauts en route to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons that has shown evidence of water, in search of possible terrestrial life outside of Earth. It’s a movie so obviously something goes wrong. The film is shot in a found footage format which has been popular in the horror community as of late. While a lot of films shot in this manner can fall short, due to factors such as ridiculous concepts and the fact that continuous POV shots can get boring, Europa Report effectively uses this technique in a manner that actually adds to the film. The cameras are a combination of stationary cameras within and outside of the ship, helmet cams on the space suits, hand helds the astronauts use, and news reports and there’s no footage shot outside of that set up making for a realistic and entertaining experience. In the trailer you see someone floating out to space, in the context of the film that scene is pretty disturbing and I doubt it would’ve had the effect it had if it wasn’t for the way it was shot with the internal and external cams on the space suit. The way this film was shot really helps you empathize with the emotions of the characters.
The acting is superb and very natural. The team is focused on their mission and act like professionals would. They’re not strict drones though, they have personality and enjoy themselves but you don’t get some of the corny witticisms or melodrama between characters as you would in a lot of sci-fi films. It’s akin to watching a documentary, everyone seems very real. Everyone is likeable and there’s no real bad guy to hate on which makes any fatality a bummer.
As I’ve mentioned this a bit of an unconventionally movie. While you don’t have heroines being chased through dark corridors by aliens, it’s still a very tense film. It’s gear more toward the psychological aspect of horror although it does have a similar claustrophobic tone as Alien. It’s hard to explain without giving away too much, but there’s a sense of foreboding throughout the film. Enough is given away where you know something bad is going to happen but you’re not sure how and you’re also curious to see what that catastrophic occurrence is. You also only know what the astronauts do so that fear of the unknown is ever lurking. In a way itself, Europa is the main antagonist. Considering that we can find a way to send people to Jupiter and maintain contact, this movie seems quite plausible which I think adds to the horror of it since it’s so realistic. While being just under an hour and a half long, it feels much longer do to the slow pace, although that’s not to say it’s boring.
I can see the crawling pace of the film and lack of serious action sequences turning off plenty of people, I can understand how someone would get bored, but I don’t mind slower films; Stalker from Andrei Tarkovsky is one of my favorite films and it’s three hours long and nothing really happens. So I guess preference does play a hand in this article but outside of that the movie is well shot, creative, wonderfully scripted and features a great cast. For those interested in a smart, engaging and realistic sci/horror film that thinks outside the box I highly recommend this.