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Sputnik: the best Russian horror movie is on Netflix (and why watch it)

Gravity, Alien, and Chernobyl team up in this tense and bloody horror movie that you have to see now.

Sputnik was the Russian program that launched several ships into space during the first years of the space race, and it is also the name of the new Russian horror film that pays tribute to Alien and the union of terror with science fiction.

The 2020 film won 14 nominations in different International awards and stars Oksana Akinshina, Pyotr Fedorov, and Fedor Bondarchuck, who take us back to the 80s to tell a story of secret government programs, national heroes, and a mission to space. It didn’t turn out as well as expected.

Egor Abramenko built a time bubble trapped in the Cold War, when Russia was determined to prove its superiority to the United States by any means possible, leading them to launch two astronauts into space for what is an easy mission, almost like what happens with the Nostromo ship in Alien.

The story takes place in the 80s and begins with the accident of a space capsule, which leads to a scientist being recruited to treat the astronauts and discover what happened to them during the accident that caused the death of one and left the other in shock.

Why watch it?

A more emotional terror

Sputnik begins as if it were a thriller, it feels like those stories in which everything is a bit slow, but where the tension increases little by little until it reaches the great revelation that changes everything.

It is a story that combines science fiction and horror, and also creates an atmosphere of isolation and loneliness and despair that intensifies the problems of the protagonists. We have an astronaut, considered a national hero, hidden in a government laboratory and a doctor trying to discover what is happening despite the fact that they do not make things easy for her, which also speaks to us of the importance of keeping up appearances during the space race and when it comes to maintaining a country’s reputation.

The film also has a dose of blood and strange creatures, but it is not an obvious or aggressive horror (you are not going to end up with a heart attack due to jumping scares ), but it is more psychological and explores topics such as ethics and morals, the fear, abandonment and even sexism.

What is really happening there is revealed every night and Dr. Tatiana Yurievna (Oksana Akinshina), who agreed to go there because she had a difficult time in her career, seems to be the only one interested in finding a solution.

Winks to Alien, Gravity and Chernobyl

Sputnik doesn’t have the most innovative monster, but the way to tell its story and make it terrifying is effective. Both this monster and the events and style of the film are reminiscent of other great science fiction classics.

De Alien takes the concept of a mysterious creature that uses humans and destroys them, making it clear from the beginning that something is wrong, but also that the monster or “villain” is not necessarily thousands of miles from the earth. It is within ourselves (literally and metaphorically).

There are references to Gravity when talking about loneliness in space and how only astronauts and those who experience it can understand it. And Chernobyl takes the issue of government control and the race to hide a secret that can end up damaging the image of an entire country, and destroy the morale of the people.

Of course, the literal monster is brutal, mysterious, and dangerous, but, as in many great hits of the genre, it is humans who should worry us, and this is shown in different ways, not only with the main problem that Tatiana must solve.

Nothing is what it seems

The best thing about horror and thrillers is discovering the truth together with the characters, and that is something that Sputnik does very well. The story opens with the accident and the arrival of Taiana, but she herself discovers that they are not telling her everything that really happened and that the project she is part of is much more complicated and dark than it appears. And not only that, Tatiana’s own story is revealed little by little and in the end it is what ends up giving meaning to the decisions she makes throughout the film.

On the visual and soundtrack level, the film does a great job of creating a strange and cold atmosphere that responds to the aesthetics of the Soviet Union times, and that also makes Sputnik look like a retro classic, and that is why This works even when it’s not packed with crazy special effects or explosive action sequences, but instead relies on the power of its story.

It is a story about the survivors, as in the case of the Ridley Scott film, and what they are willing to do in order to escape the evil that haunts them.

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