Directed by Sebastián Cordero
Written by Philip Gelatt
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, and Christian Camargo
An international crew of astronauts undertakes a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter’s fourth largest moon.
In space, no one can hear found footage? Not true. Turns out even the expanse of space isn’t safe from the long arm of this genre component. This slow burn is an even mix of traditional horror, science fiction, faux documentary, and alternate American history. Europa Report is based on the real life discovery of water frozen beneath the surface of Jupiter’s Moon. Insert half a dozen scientists striving towards an unearthly discovery, and the stage is set for an intelligent and reserved thriller. Although the film is a little sterile and cold, the last moments are intense if not downright anti-climatic.
The crew is a mix of traditional elements; the engineer, the pilot, the deeply invested scientist, etc. Each relies on the expertise of the other as they settle into their extended trip, adding a human side to the characters and their motivations. The characters approach everything with precision, almost to a dry fault, as they encounter fatal challenges past the deep orbit of Jupiter. The pacing is slow and methodical, picking off the protagonists one by one, much like a slasher film, but with none of the sensational gore. Martyred in their sacrifice, the acceptance of death helps cement the cause as epic and history making.
Some might find fault with the film’s withdrawn nature told through a series of static cameras, others will appreciate the dry and methodical approach trapped within the vacuum of space. Europa Report is a stylish patience tester, told with an elegant flair not common among similar films.