When a straight-to-DVD screener turns up on your desk that just happens to be a sci-fi horror flick headlined by Christian Slater, you kind of hope for one of two things.

Either the film turns out to be so crap that it enters ‘so bad it’s good’ territory, or the film turns out to be a pleasant surprise and actually genuinely quite good.

Stranded somehow manages to straddle both categories – yes it’s bad, but it does everything with such gusto that it also turns to be a relatively enjoyable watch.

strandedSlater stars as Colonel Gerard Brauchman, head of a four-crew bio-dome facility working on the moon.

Before the opening credits have even rolled, the facility is hit by a violent meteor storm, shattering their defence and communication systems, as well as flooding the facility with toxic carbon monoxide.

Having battled to seal off various chambers and air locks, things get even worse for the foursome when one of the crew decides to bring a chunk of meteor in for analysis.

Wouldn’t you know, this hunk of rock just happens to contain a spore which is capable of regenerating and replicating lifeforms.

Soon enough we have entered creature feature territory as the crew members not only struggle to retain their sanity in the poison-filled corridors, but also square off against the villainous spore.

If this all sounds faintly familiar, well that is because it is – after all, not only did director Roger Christian work as art director on the classic Alien, he also managed to helm the colossal misfire that was Battlefield Earth.

Stranded has more than a whiff of Alien/Prometheus/Solaris about it, from crew stumbling about in darkened corridors surrounded by billowing smoke, through to a rapidly-gestating creature.

The big problem with Stranded though is that, while flicks like Alien took the time to introduce us to the crew before nasty things start happening, here it just jumps straight in – leaving the viewer with little or no empathy for the crew members.

Slater does a decent enough job – after all, he should be well at home in these straight-to-DVD offerings by now, but it is hard to care for his character.

The other crew members, played by Brendan Fehr, Amy Matysio and Michael Therriault respectively, fare little better – but that is the script’s problem, rather than anything particularly poor with their performances.

There is some decent effects work in terms of the spore effects, although the film makers would have been advised to ditch the moon base model work as that looks pretty poor.

Sadly there is also a tacked-on ‘shock’ ending which is unnecessary and likely to leave you groaning more than anything else.

At just over 80 minutes Stranded barely pauses for breath, and this is one of those occasions where a shortened running time really works in the film’s favour.

Derivative? Oh yes.

Weak-scripted? Yep.

Entertaining? Against all the odds, yes again.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.