Director – Sebastián Cordero
Cast – Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Christian Camargo, Karolina Wydra, Michael Nyqvist, Anamaria Marinca, Embeth Davidtz, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Dan Fogler
Release Year – 2013
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I was initially very ecstatic when I learned of this flick because it is a horror/sci-fi effort and it also stars Sharlto Copley. After viewing a trailer I realized I was probably wrong about the level of horror in the film and I instead took my sweet time getting to it. Horror/sci-fi is one of my favorite sub-genres, so I had high hopes for effort and prayed that it would deliver some good horror in the end. Judging from the trailer the film appeared to be more on the sci-fi side, but thankfully I was wrong and Europa Report eventually delivered the horrific experience I was hoping for.
With recent proof of heat signatures and sub-surface lakes, a privately funded international crew of astronauts embarks on a mission to search for life on Jupiter’s fourth largest moon, Europa. The first attempt to send men and women into deep space, the world watched every moment for six months until the transmission was corrupted and the shuttle never returned. The team hoped to make mankind’s most significant discovery to date, but no one could have predicted what they found. With every documented moment not declassified, the world can now see the horrors that overcame the crew of Europa One.
With a story like that I could not help but be excited when the opening sequence hit the screen. Horror or not I was fully aware that something bad happened to the crew of Europa One, and the lingering question throughout the 90 minute experience is “What was it?”. It will take the entire runtime for the question to be answered, and thankfully everything before that is sure to keep you glued to the screen. Written by Philip Gelatt, who wrote 2011 film The Bleeding House, this story moves at a perfect pace and contains developments expertly placed at just the right moments. I say this because the horror payoff hits very late yet I never found myself bored or uninterested in what was going on. There are horrific acts that take place and foul your emotions, proving that horror can come from all angles. It takes about 25 minutes for the crew to reach Europa, and 45 minutes before the first major conflict hits. That means you will go through half the film before anything “good” happens, but because of the constant “other” developments that should not be a problem. As you should expect from the storyline, the crew does not return to Earth. I won’t give away all of their fates, but I will say that the deaths in the film were dramatic, and in the right way. Many of them were drawn out and left me in awe at what was going on before me, and I highly applaud Philip Gelatt for going this route.
Director Sebastian Cordero did a good job directing his first English language film. His execution of the introduction was solid and easily grabbed my attention from the get-go, and with Gelatt’s story it was easy to keep me engaged. Because the cameras were placed around the ship in static fashion we don’t have any shaky POV moments, so in a sense the film feels like one shot in standard format. With characters from multiple nationalities they are each colorful in their own way, and Cordero’s execution of their performances was good. I really cannot say that one actor stood out above the rest, and fans of Sharlto Copley may balk at that, but all did well – none were amazing though. I will tell what was amazing though: the drawn out kills. While expertly written, they were also directed extremely well and as I mentioned, left me in awe. If not for these scenes the film would not have hit hard at all and would have been a mediocre experience, but these kills and the final revelation made the film worth my while.
Overall, Europa Report is a positive horror/sci-fi effort that takes a while to deliver but still manages to keep you pleased. This won’t win any awards and it really could have been better horror-wise, but the horror is there and the long overdue payoff is at least worth a positive rating. If you are a fan of horror/sci-fi then I recommend you give this a watch without expecting anything spectacular, and don’t pay too much either – Netflix it.