Sputnik (Vertigo Releasing)

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They had me at Sputnik.  The feature debut from director Egor Abramenko, Sputnik is an intelligent, science fiction horror film that embraces the genre’s tropes and subverts them to create a story that explores identity and the subjugation of individuality. Set in 1983, during the height of the Cold War and the Soviet era, Sputnik is a first contact tale with a sting in its tale.  After a gruelling months long mission, a pair of cosmonauts return to Earth carrying an uninvited hostile passenger, which after nearly killing one of them takes up residence in the others body.

Supposedly unaware of his new parasite, Konstantin (the surviving cosmonaut) becomes the subject of an in depth psychological evaluation by neurophysiologist Tatyana Klimova. During their sessions  in which it gradually becomes apparent that the creature inside the cosmonaut is more than just a parasite. and as the visitor reveals itself, the “walls”, both personal and physical, around Konstantin, Tatyana and the military and scientific personnel surrounding them gradually begin to crumble.

Sputnik revels in its adoption of stereotypes and by transferring them to Soviet Russia and adding an extra dose of the paranoia and isolation that defined that period of Russian history, makes them feel fresh, exciting and new again.  Yes, you’ve seen every element of this film before, but you haven’t seen them in quite the same way that Sputnik presents them.  While it probably won’t set the Western box office alight, if you’re fan of the genres that Sputnik gleefully plays with and twists to its will, you need to lose yourself in its terrifying grip. There are more things in heaven and hell Comrade Horatio, than are dreamt of in your Western philosophy…  Tim Cundle

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