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[Review] ‘400 Days’ is a Bold Move for SyFy

400 DAYS | via Syfy
Syfy Films

Syfy is mostly known for their very own made-for-TV movies, which are usually Oscar-contending classics like Sharknado or even Dinocroc Vs Supergator. Now, however, Syfy is making a leap to the big screen with their new Syfy Films banner, and who would have guessed that their first feature film would be a brainy thriller that has more in common with Duncan Jones’ Moon than Roger Corman’s Carnosaur? The movie, of course, is Matt Osterman’s 400 Days, which aims to provide us with a poignant look inside the human psyche when there’s nowhere left to run.

The film follows a group of training astronauts during a 400-day simulation designed to test the limits of human isolation in a controlled environment. The crew gets off to a good start, but things turn sour when some of them bring their own personal problems onboard as well. As time goes on, however, they begin to suspect that there is something wrong with this simulation, and the line between fact and fiction begins to blur.

The premise is interesting enough, with a lot of potential for character-driven story elements in such a claustrophobic environment. An uninspired cast and underdeveloped script, however, make this next to impossible. Even with a decent ensemble like this one, featuring an underappreciated Brandon Routh, Dane Cook, Caity Lots and others, the film still struggles to find its feet in a mess of melodramatic elements and easily avoidable mistakes made by characters that are supposed to be highly intelligent.

Production-wise this looks nothing like Syfy’s cheap, ‘made for TV’ efforts. You feel that 400 Days is meant to be admired, at least visually, on a large, high-resolution screen in order to catch all the minute details. Even so, the half-baked story and stupid characters bring the whole experience down a notch. The film’s final twist is sure to be the most divisive moment here, but I was caught off guard and found it to be quite creative, though the entire final third of the film does seem to come out of nowhere.

400 Days is certainly a lot better than Syfy’s earlier work, but it never quite reaches the heights that it promises. The visuals were decent enough, but we have seen too many science fiction movies to feel impressed with this kind of technology anymore. Fortunately, the story did go in new and unexpected directions, yet the problem here lies in the bland characters that took us there. Ultimately, there is enough here to justify a quick viewing by sci-fi aficionados, but it won’t be blowing anyone’s mind anytime soon. In any case, I still prefer this to Arachnoquake.

6/10 Skulls



COMMENTS

8 Comments
  • J Jett

    i’m a huge Caity Lotz fan, so i need to check this one out one of these days.

  • Se_7_eN

    400 days isn’t mind blowing by any means… But it is a good film.

    That is something I never thought I would actually say about a SyFy movie, and I never thought I would actually recommend one, but I do recommend watching this. Especially if you are a fan of space sci-fi / horror.

    I think this is a huge step forward for SyFy and I hope they can continue these strides.

  • diapers

    Caity Lotz? Ok, I’m in.

  • HoneyBooBoo

    Dane Cook the comedian? Or the singer from American Idol?

    • Wes Draven

      Comedian. He hasn’t had an opportunity to show much range with his comedy-films, so I am interested to see what he can do with something more out of his comfort zone.

  • Cure4Humanity

    I must have been alone in thinking this movie was terrible. I actually went in hoping for something better (yeah I know it’s SyFy). In the end the whole film just seemed bland, filled with poorly written/stupid characters. Everything in the film just seems to be made overly dramatic. Happy for anyone that enjoyed it, but I certainly didn’t.

  • crackersandwich

    Just checked the movie out. I definitely agree with criticisms about it not taking time to develop the world/ story more (although I think that they did pretty well with the small budget I’m sure they had). I think, though, that the movie is trying to do something new/ different with the storytelling, and that’s pretty refreshing to see.

    As far as the ending goes, http://400days.tumblr.com/ has some pretty good theories that really got me thinking back on it.

    Also thanks much for the great article.

  • Christine Ballone

    Just rented it on Fibe TV, being a sci fi fan this movie was not delivering, I found it boring, no special effects and totally unsatisfying, I wasted $ 6.00 and my time!

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