Sci-fi horror can sometimes feel like a strange fit. The latter genre is more often anchored in the future than in the future, better suited to organic fear than technological nightmares, and thus the tendency to use only science fiction as a window dressing for an old-fashioned monster movie. (There is a reason aliensChiles are rooted in rotten meat, and the malicious A.I. drama of 2001 does not play as a horror.) Nightfly, the new Syfy show based on a novel from 1980 Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, trying to find the ghostly scares in the machine, and while serving cool pictures and convincing performances, the show is missing. It's never boring, but it's struggling to overcome uneven handling of the material.
The obvious point of comparison is the 1997 film Event Horizon, another story about a crew of spacecraft-bound characters plagued by an unknown source of evil. (The less mentioned about the previous attempt to adapt Martin's novella, a relaxed 1987 movie with star Catherine Mary Stuart, the better.) But this series goes further into the imagination by including a psychic among its throws of outer space travel. After discovering an alien vessel, Dr. Charles D & Branin (The Night Shifts Eoin Macken) collects a team to take a long-haul spacecraft The Nightflyer, attempting to reach the so far-traveled stranger ship and establish first contact, all hoping to find a means to save a rapidly dwindling human population On earth. Unfortunately, the Nightflyer crew is more afraid of the fatal accident (Sam Strike) as D & Branin brings together as a foreign communicator than they are optimistic about the new mission. Even worse, someone or something causes dangerous hallucinations, sabotage the ship and put the mission at risk. There is a lot going on and the series runs through its plot, often before it has a chance to register. It's probably the best, but because this thing does not withstand much review.
Jeff Buhler (based on the novel "Nightflyers" by George R. Martin)
Eoin Macken, Gretchen Mol, David Ajala, Jodi Turner-Smith, Angus Sampson, Mayan Eshet, Sam Strike
10 o'clock east sunday to thursday beginning 2 december
Hour-long sci-fi horror. Five episodes looked at the story.
This is a sudden show. The plot development is introduced pell-mell with little chance of building, leaving the viewer behind a sense of whiplash as they try to treat what happened in between scenes. At one point it is suggested that one month have boarded the ship without marking timeouts, saving for a sign that announces so much. Some of this is a problem with editing – the characters will suddenly appear in different places aboard the ship, as when it is a force that creates creepy digital projections of people in history, it can easily cause confusion – but most of it is a problem with scripting, where deafening mysteries are threatened by the characters to easily shadow into mysteries regarding the story of the series itself.
It would be easy to get into the spread of confusing signs and plots. It's a telepath, but his forces are ambiguous at best, which causes more confusion than exciting mystery. The ship's returning captain Eris (David Ajala, who does the best for an underwritten role) is forced to tread telling water, pulling out the old "I can not tell you yet" just tap dance to explain it all an episode later, without logical reason for the delay. Too often the show will introduce a question that can develop into something more (is this experience real? Is that threat a red herring?) Just to throw it aside with a "Oh, do not guess" shortly afterwards. Termination of Genre Conventions Martin perfected with Game of Thrones Being either unhappy or underdeveloped here, as the normal tropics of space scare come over as standard problems – some depicted with formal knowledge, others never blossom into something that is different enough to work fresh. It's a feeling all this has been done before, and showrunner Jeff Buhler does not really know how to make it feel again.
It is a testament to the massive drama of the source material as Nightfly remains nice to see despite these weaknesses. It's an admirable B-movie that appeals to the case, the series rages quickly from an absurd sequence to the next to keep the story from collapsing under the weight of its many instabilities. ("Everyone on board this ship accepts that a certain character has heard voices in their heads for decades without questioning their mental stability, so who are you, television viewer, to doubt it?" Is an example of the massive show good faith, ask from their audience.) At a certain point, you either go with the random nature of your choice or throw your hands in frustration on the many issues that are not addressed. (At first, a woman is covered with bees, and yet the immediate thought-Surely this is another hallucination– Is quickly rejected in favor of a faith-beggaring reality. If it's a surprise to get lost in the back half of the show, it's a lumpy one.)
By replacing a Syfy budget for the massive payroll is one of the author's more successful got siblings (leaving Martin out of the creative process as a whole, his HBO contract is exclusive), the series still manages to create an appealing visual style. Credit Director Mike Cahill (I Origins, Another earth) to create a cool sense of spatial ingenuity: The camera will go out of a window and soar along the outside of the massive ship, revel in its extent before entering another part of The Nightflyer to start a new scene. And he has a good understanding of how to draw standard crises; From an opening scene right out of a slasher girl to the ghost projections that can be displayed anytime, he delivers some real scares that subsequent episodes manage to imitate with reasonable success.
Likewise, the actors sell most of this supernatural hidden-like-sci-fi hokum. So many of the characters are either inconsistent or forced to narrative situations that pivot them as ping pong balls from one feeling to the next. It's a relief when the professionals like Ajala or Angus Sampson just choose a mood and roll it. Maya Eshet, an actor with whom I was previously unknown, is particularly good; Her computer specialist Lommie (with a port in her arm that allows her literally connecting the ship's controls) is the most complex and subtly shady performance of the gang. Eshet is deeply charismatic, a magnetic presence that elevates every scene she sees. It's no coincidence that the fifth episode, which sets her front and center with an independent story about entering the computer's mainframe, is the best in the first half of the season.
Finally, your tolerance for Nightfly can depend on your love to capture the genre. It's engaging without being all that well, and while the whole thing unfolds with the unconventional pace of a typical "let's look at the best intentions, go awful, scary" horror movie (and with a quick clip, fortunately), it's missing the depth of good human drama to anchor all silliness. At the end, the quiet and unknown foreign body in the distant distances can feel more relatable than these innocent people.