Dead Space: Downfall (2008)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 11/22/08
Screenplay: Jimmy Palmiotti
Cast: Nika Futterman, Bruce Boxleitner, Kelly Hu

"Downfall" chronicles the events that take place prior to EA's popular horror game, "Dead Space." A bizarre artifact is found on the surface of a dead planet, and its discovery starts turning the local mining colony insane and extremely violent. Undeterred, the USG Ishimura comes in to retrieve the artifact and bring it back to Earth. It is believed to be a holy relic, and the church is very interested in its secrets. Unfortunately, the Ishimura attracts an unwanted alien visitor who makes short work of the crew by mutating them into horrific blood-thirsty monsters. Alissa Vincent (Nika Futterman) is the security chief in charge of trying to contain the hopeless situation, and her team is decimated in standard horror film fashion. Ironically, she saves the ship from destruction, setting the stage for the nightmare to continue in the video game.

The film is gory and gruesome, but not particularly scary. The spookiest aspect is the dramatic music score, which creates a lot of atmospheric tension. Great sounding stuff. The animation is good and Alissa's character is wonderful. Unfortunately, her voice seems a little too harsh for her body, and her character design is sorely lacking any shoulders, giving her a strange and unimposing silhouette. The voice acting is quite good, but the writing is overly pedestrian and clichéd. Really people, if you don't have anything interesting or useful to say, then don't say anything. Overall, "Downfall" is a good piece of mindless horror cinema with a focus on sci-fi action. It also has some interesting themes and sub-plots to ponder, which fill out the otherwise one-dimensional characters, and it features a nice bad-ass female protagonist. That's ultimately what sold me on the film.