REVIEW: THE LAST DAYS ON MARS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: RUAIRI ROBINSON / SCREENPLAY: CLIVE DAWSON / STARRING: LIVE SCHREIBER, ELIAS KOTEAS, ROMOLA GARAI, OLIVIA WILLIAMS / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 11TH
This feature film debut from Ruari Robinson centres on the first manned mission to Mars. We find ourselves on the Tantalus Base, headed up by Commander Brunel (Koteas), as the crew are getting ready to depart the red planet. That is, until a strange discovery is made. When scientist Marko (Goran Kostic) decides to leave the ship to investigate a potential living organism, things take a turn for the dark and sinister. As tragedy strikes, the rest of the crew, with Schreiber’s Campbell at the fore, attempt a recovery mission. With other members of the crew experiencing their own traumas, it appears that this initial discovery is a lot more troubling than first perceived. So much so, the affected crew members seem to turn into some sort of zombie.
A unique premise, there is a lot of plus points about The Last Days on Mars. Schreiber, an actor that often divides opinion, does well as the lead of the film, and Olivia Williams and Elias Koteas also shine. That said, it’s always good to see Koteas in anything! The zombie spin offers something different, and it generally works. Quite what the origins of the organism/infection are and how it comes to spread is a little hazy at times, but that never feels a massively major concern here. And on the zombie front, these aren’t your standard plodding walker-types, these are actually smart, aggressive zombies.
At times, The Last Days on Mars feels like a throwback to classic sci-fi suspense horror of decades gone by. And that’s where the movie’s strengths lie: in its build and its crawling tension teases. Sure, the conviction is occasionally flawed, but the film is by no means a waste of your time. Pulling from such films as Alien, Apollo 18, Prometheus and John Carpenter’s The Thing (and even videogames like the Dead Space series),Last Days on Mars makes for a solid, impressive watch with a few choice thrills, even if it never really makes any major steps towards maximising its potential. That said, Robinson shows a lot of promise as a filmmaker, the central roles are delivered strongly, and there’s some good scares tied to a novel premise, not to mention a tension-heavy score that adds superbly to the overall atmosphere and tone of the film.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10