If extra terrestrials do show up at our door it’s highly unlikely that it will play out like something from Independence Day. If we can even recognise them as sentient beings, and vice versa, the form they take is likely to be highly unusual to human minds. Communication by traditional means may well be impossible. This has been tackled by many intelligent science-fiction films, most memorably in Arrival and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Egor Abramenko’s new film Sputnik is another worthy entry into the sub-genre.
At the height of the Cold War, a Soviet mission runs into problems and the capsule crash lands after re-entry in what is now Kazakhstan. There’s only one survivor, the lead astronaut Konstantin Veshnyakov (Pyotr Fyodorov). Concerned with his mental state, Colonel Semiradov (Fedor Bondarchuk) enlists the help of renowned psychologist, Tatyana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina). After arriving at a remote secure instillation, she soon realises that something is dramatically wrong.
Sputnik is an intelligent and entertaining genre thriller which approaches the subject of first contact from a different perspective. Whilst it would be easy to dismiss the story as derivative, the angle Abramenko chooses to tackle the subject from opens up a Pandoras’ box of possibilities. The effects are also very good and both Akinshina and Bondarchuk impress. Sputnik is not going to change the world but it’s an interesting and unusual horror.
Sputnik will be released on digital platforms from 14 August.