The tag line for Alien (1979), one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time, was “in space, no one can hear you scream.” From the tag line, the vast empty vacuum of space became an excellent environment for horror and sci-fi.
Few environments conjure up the anxiety of sheer nothingness, the eternal void of which there is no escape. Just the thought of being stuck in a dingy spaceship in the middle of space, where there is no help for miles-on-end, sends chills down my spine. The Final Land captures that anxiety well through the film’s cloistering atmosphere, excellent use of it’s setting, and the two leads’ desperate performances.
The Final Land is a two-person film carried by Torben Föllmer and Milan Pesl, as Adam and Novak, respectively. They get ahold of a spaceship to escape from a desolated earth in search of a new home. The director, Marcel Barion, makes the most of his simple premise. He understands how to use his setting to his advantage, as the spaceship feels like a character in itself. The ship’s grungy and slapdash look, along with the old-school black-and-green computers, makes the spacecraft feel practical, like it really could exist. It also adds to the tension, as if the ship could all fall apart at any second.
Barion presents characterization and exposition naturally, almost unnoticeable to the casual ear. Rather than merely dumping plot points or exposition on the viewer’s lap, it’s mixed in discretely in the conversations between the two leads. Barion gives Adam’s desires for human contact and Novak’s desire to run away from their old planet equal weight since neither has much to support their motives except their gut. Their attempts at salvaging the ship breed conflict, and the revelations about the ship lend themselves to an engaging mystery, with clues subtly placed throughout the film. The film never feels exhausting, as the film is bursting with energy, whether it’s during the more fast-paced scenes or, the quieter moments as the characters uncovering the ship’s secrets.
The Final Land is a gritty, energized sci-fi mystery, piercing with intrigue and claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s a film that rewards paying attention, as the more you look, the more you find. The film’s immersive atmosphere sucks you into the ship’s story. I’ll certainly be rewatching this film to see what more I can find.
The Final Land will be screened next at the Miami Sci-Fi Film Festival.