Seeing movies like Stranded makes one appreciate something like Alien even more. The former is a dime a dozen, while the latter is all too rare. Obviously Ridley Scott’s masterpiece proves what is possible despite a small cast and limited budget and locations. Too often though what we get is something like Stranded, derivative and unimaginative and a total waste of time.
The movie wastes no time getting started. A little more setup might have helped. After being informed that the action takes place on a moon base, a sudden meteor shower damages communication systems and thrusts the four crew members into an emergency situation. Said crew consists of Gerard (Christian Slater), Dr. Krauss (Brendan Fehr), Ava (Amy Matysio), and Bruce (Michael Therriault).
A lot of technical jargon is thrown around as the crew tries to repair the damage done by the meteors and avoid succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning. There are super serious exchanges about proceeding with the mission and being close to catastrophic collapse and imminent danger. Krauss gives a detailed explanation of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning that sounds like a PSA. It’s all rather amusing.
Trouble starts once a meteor is brought into the base. It contains a yellow substance that Krauss identifies as a spore with an ancient cell structure. It is also reproducing at an incredible rate and can replicate on its own. Sadly for this quartet Ava was exposed to the spores and appears to experience a massively accelerated pregnancy. While under lockdown in the medical bay she claims to give birth to something, but it scurries away and no one else sees it. Did she really give birth or is she hallucinating due to carbon monoxide exposure?
When you see something like Stranded, you have to wonder why it was even made. There is nothing new or noteworthy here. Did the filmmakers really feel passionate about the material? It sure doesn’t show on the screen. It just goes through the motions and covers extremely familiar terrain. Characters run around the small base and argue about quarantines and procedures and whether or not something else is really among them.
There is never much mystery concerning the actual presence of an alien life form. Promotional materials claim that it attacks the crew one at a time, but that isn’t true. It only kills one person, and the most gruesome death doesn’t even directly involve the alien. As for the alien itself, it resembles a human being. So we get to watch the crew look for a regular person, which isn’t very suspenseful or compelling.
If forced to say something nice about Stranded, I’d say that some of the makeup effects are pretty good. There’s just not very much of them. Everything else looks cheap, and you get the impression they filmed this is about a week. If you have at all been thinking about giving it a shot, don’t bother. Just another dud for former movie star Christian Slater.
Stranded is available now on VOD and will be released in select theaters on July 26th.