“Not as good as BLAKE’S 7”
Not by a long way. Chris Reading’s slick, posh-looking, low budget, high concept, UK-made SF movie that sadly gets too many vital things wrong gets a DVD release courtesy of Soda Pictures.
We kick off with a charming prologue set in 1952 that looks as if it was shot on the Severn Valley Railway. There’s a train and a scientist and a mysterious book that we assume will figure prominently later on.
Three hundred years later. The crew aboard a commercial spaceship are starting to have problems with their on-board computer, Meryl, who has developed a distinct case of the HALs. While she’s busy bumping them off the ship itself develops a few problems and has to land on a remote asteroid called Somnus that houses a former penal colony, the few remaining members of whom have gone a bit nuts. Somehow that book from 1952 figures in that. Don’t ask me how. It gets even more confusing before the film stops.
I can’t decide if SOMNUS is admirably ambitious, but saddled with a director who hasn’t a clue how to tell a story properly, or if it's actually a shamelessly derivative rip-off of someone’s favourite scenes from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, ALIEN, DARK STAR and (yes) BLAKE’S 7. All of those did a far better job of telling the story I think we have here than this. Mind you, even RED DWARF could have done a better job with the central idea in 25 minutes than the 83 minutes we have here (including the obligatory interminable end credit crawl to pad this thing out to something resembling feature length).
It’s a shame because I really wanted to like SOMNUS. The effects and model work are very good for such a low budget, and you could definitely have got away with the level of acting we see if the story had been better presented. All that means SOMNUS is House of Mortal Cinema’s first infuriating film of 2017. Extras include a trailer and a director’s commentary.
SOMNUS is out on DVD from Soda Pictures on 2nd January 2017