Review: Stranded / Cert: 15 / Director: Roger Christian / Screenplay: Christian Piers Betley / Starring: Christian Slater, Brendan Fehr, Amy Matysio / Release Date: May 27th
“Take a welding kit! Seal off the airlock!” screams Colonel Gerard Brauchman (Slater). He's in charge of a moonbase which has just been smashed to pieces by a meteor shower. Together, he and his crew shelter in the small section of it that isn't reduced to rubble, but even so they have only 72 hours before they'll exhaust their supplies of power and oxygen. The film is now taking place in moody (and cheap, this is direct-to-DVD) semi-darkness. The only splash of colour comes from the unidentified bright yellow spore attached to the meteorite sample which female crew-member Amy (Matysio) brings back from her foray into the damaged part of the base. Wouldn't you know it, this turns out to be a deadly fungus. “It's reproducing at an incredible rate,” the base doctor (Fehr) notices, prodding it with his finger.
One thing leads to another, and the spore manages to give Amy some kind of extra-terrestrial bun in the oven. “You have what appears to be a massively accelerated pregnancy,” observes the doctor, backing away from her impressive bump. He's keeping her in quarantine – except he doesn't really seem to understand the meaning of the word (this guy is the worst doctor ever, even by direct-to-DVD standards), and people wander in and out as they like, with the result that soon another crew member is infected and a slimy demon baby is scuttling around in the air ducts. Well, that's what air ducts are for, aren't they?
Lots of yelling into intercoms, lots of running down corridors, lots of footage of Christian Slater worrying about leakage (perils of middle age, mate). Stranded is cheap: to know that you only have to see the opening exterior shot of the base, which uses scale models - although give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe it's a Gerry Anderson homage. But that's not the problem, or at least not the main one. The real problem is the dog-tiredness of the script, which wearily helps itself to plot beats and turns of phrase from every SF shocker you can mention.
To be fair, director Roger Christian hauls the whole thing towards its conclusion competently enough, but even so you can sense the cast going into out-of-body mode as they utter lines which they can't believe ever got written. Presumably the intention was to create a claustrophobic thriller on the lines of John Carpenter's The Thing, but the end product is so dreary, it's more like being stuck in an overcrowded lift. As it is, you find yourself running out of patience long before they run out of air.