As always here at Reporting on Marvels and Legends, we strive to bring you posts that have nothing to do with whatever holiday they happen to be falling on. Because we know some of you also hate solid blocks of holiday-themed programming.
So how about 400 Days, a movie about four prospective astronauts put inside a simulator in preparation for a trip to another planet. Part way through, something happens which makes the power and oxygen levels fluctuate erratically. Then an emaciated, freaky looking human crawls in through an air vent, before fleeing the next morning. The team, which is rapidly cracking under the strain, eventually leave and find a wasteland. Dvorak (Cook) is convinced the whole thing is just a test, while the others aren't so sure. Well, Bug is losing any grip on reality so he probably doesn't care much one way or the other. The ending provides no certain answer one way or the other, as it occurs right as the 400 days end and a possibly automated message plays in the simulator, followed by the sound of pounding on the hatch above.
If it was all part of the test, Theo (Brandon Routh) is going to feel awful silly about killing those three guys. Assuming they aren't faking masterfully. The film does just enough I can't dismiss the possibility the whole thing is is a set-up outright. There's always the chance the other two members are OK the way that guy said back at the town. That the someone watching Theo and Emily (Caity Lotz) retreat to the simulator through night vision goggles were members of NASA or whatever. Dvorak was convinced all the people in the town were at their press conference, but it had been over 13 months so you could question his memory.
It wasn't what I expected. I figured it would be more about the four gradually turning on each other, and NASA lets it go too long because they need to see what will happen. Probably because I expected Cook to be playing an extremely irritating guy who the audience would want to see murdered. I wouldn't say that's how it played out. His character was a bit of a jerk, but of course there are Reasons, and he was under a lot of strain. But the film is more focused on how knowing they were being watched and subjected to stress as a test, combined with their isolation, makes them suspicious. They can't trust what they see and hear, and they're smart enough to concoct possible explanations that fit into the "it's a test" narrative.
So it wasn't great or anything, but I was expecting terrible, and got "readily watchable". I'll take that as a win, even if it's partially due to lowered expectations. I feel like I've watched a lot of just disappointing, shitty films this year.