Space is Gorgeous, But Not as Scary as we’d Hoped. A review of Europa Report

As part of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, I had the opportunity to view the sort of film that sadly doesn’t come along very often; A beautiful, down to Earth (relatively speaking) Sci-fi horror film. The genre of Sci-fi horror often tends to fall victim to a range of cheesy effects and “made for TV” quality production values. Very few movies (Sunshine and Event Horizon come to mind) break this tried and true mold.

The Europa Report is a small exception to that rule. The acting is very well done and is a great reminder of the talent of European actors such as Mikael Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Karolina Wydra (Crazy, Stupid, Love/Be Kind Rewind) as well as South African native Sharlto Copley (District 9/Elysium). They were characters that you wanted to cheer for, mostly due to their almost childlike awe at the wonders of space exploration.

Visually, it stands out in such a remarkable way considering the film has a “found footage” narration style. The entirety of the film has the very believable sense that it truly was footage taken from a human mission to Jupiter’s fourth largest moon. The lack of “shaky cam” was a welcome touch, opting instead to use what one would normally see from documentation cameras aboard a space station inter-spaced with documentary style interview footage with mission heads back on Earth.

On the horror front, I did find the movie lacking. The characters, while played by great actors, gave a sense that these astronauts had little to no training as far as space flight or science goes. Some “Prometheus Science” even reared it’s head, the “I don’t know what this is, lets poke it with a stick!” mentality. Because of some fairly basic mistakes, any mishap that happened to them felt rather expected and didn’t give that “jump” factor that a good horror story is known for.

On a scale of 1-10, I would give this movie a 7.5. Although the movie is very pretty and accurately filmed, the lack of anticipated horror elements did hurt my opinion of the movie. I still definitely recommend seeing it if you can.

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