Stranded Review – Moon Based Madness and Horror

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Stranded,” an escape from the usual, from RLJ Entertainment and Minds Eye Entertainment, brings to the screen a sci-fi haunted house drama that provides moon base horror filled with fear, dread and heightened suspense.

Directed and co-written by Christian Rogers, “Stranded” stars Christian Slater as Colonel Gerard Brauchman, Amy Matysio as Ava Cameron, Michael Therriault as Bruce Johns and Brendan Fehr as Doctor Lance Krauss. “Stranded” is written by Christian Piers Betley and Rogers and produced by Kevin Dewalt.

Stranded” opens with a long lens shot of Ark base, a small maze of pod buildings on the moon’s surface, being pummeled by a meteor shower. The crew is on a mineral expedition and is 187 days into the year mission.

In the midst of the chaos we meet our four crew members led by Brauchman who attempts, at first, to reach central command, located on earth, as the asteroids have resulted in catastrophic damage to the unit causing a total breakdown in functionality he calls for a complete evacuation and rescue.

The three other crew members, all scientists, Second in Command Ava Cameron, Engineer Bruce Johns and Doctor Lance Krauss are in damage assessment, containment and repair mode.

 With communications lost, the team, attempt emergency repairs and begin brainstorming to determine how to repair the damaged censors that control everything including oxygen. In order to stop the flow of Carbon Monoxide, which is odorless, tasteless and known as a silent killer, Cameron is sent to assess and repair. As they are on a mineral drilling expedition, she violates procedure and brings one of the rocks into the vessel for testing.

During the first third of “Stranded” the pandemonium is delivered well. Our team reacts as trained. It is clear they trust each other, even under excruciating circumstances and are effectively working as a unit to minimize damage and maintain procedures to ensure a safe return to earth.

“Stranded” really takes off when the contagion is loosed. As time ticks away, the team is overcome by fear, as the alien infection takes over. Using the only female as a host, the “thing” rapidly reproduces as a small test tube cut provided the blood trail necessary for the spore to magnetizes and connect to her.  Accelerating reproduction, within hours, Cameron showed signs of advanced stages of pregnancy.

Unsure, as it is an unknown, and without communications, and all exhibiting signs of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, “Stranded” become a terrifying haunted house.

Around every corner, in every mirror, every noise becomes the instigator to increased drama, suspense, dread, and madness as each of the crewmembers encounter the “thing” and attempt to kill it and its spores.

The interesting element in “Stranded” is that I didn’t find myself asking “Why?” I didn’t believe the plot was far-fetched, while not entirely plausible, with the unknowns of space exploration, I would be remiss if I targeted the film with the usual question of “Is this really necessary?" So barring that from the equation, “Stranded” performs as one would expect. Moon Base drilling expedition, especially for rare earth elements, is entirely possible and plausible.

As madness takes over and the chain of command deteriorates the cast is able to explore the emotions that take them each over the edge which is played differently throughout.

Stranded” is a healthy dose of trepidation, dread, shock, panic, alarm, you name it and the emotions are there. The cast, Christian Slater, Amy Matysio, Michael Therriault and Brendan Fehr really nail the scenes. They are a quartet finally tuned and in synch with each other. Singularly they each have a horror moment, a solo scene, where they are the driver and deliver brilliantly.  

 Stranded” hits the mark and is a solid choice at the box office.

Stranded” opens in select cities July 26, 2013. Check your local listings.

 

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