Sci-fi horror meets psychological drama in Egor Abramenko's menacing debut feature
Written by Prathap Nair
Menacing psychological drama meets sci-fi horror in Sputnik, the debut feature by Egor Abramenko, which was inspired by his own short film of the same name. Abramenko exploits the mechanisms of cold war Soviet Union to fuel Sputnik’s pace, and couples it with sleek visuals and special effects to unsettle the audience.
A spacecraft crash lands somewhere in the soviet Kazakhstan in 1983 after an invasive incident onboard. The only survivor of the crash, cosmonaut Konstantin Veshnyakov (Peter Fyodorov), is diagnosed with episodic amnesia, and claims he remembers nothing from the incident. Veshnyakov is kept in isolation in a secret facility while Tatiana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina), a psychiatric doctor is enlisted to unravel this mystery.
Klimova diagnoses Veshnyakov with PTSD but as it turns out, the latter is hosting a particularly sadistic alien that disgorges out of him at night. It “doesn’t just need to kill, it needs the victim to see it and become afraid.” It falls on Klimova to rescue Veshnyakov from the alien by separating both the host and the parasite. In the process, Klimova also needs to the fight other demons within the facility.
Sputnik is a curious blend of psychological deception, alien invasion and political drama tinged with dialogues critical to the soviet state. Offering to sign a non-disclosure agreement to take on the case, Klimova says: “the soviet people probably don’t need to know that their national hero lost his mind.” However, scenes like these don’t amount to much as the script quickly gets busy, scrambling to offer a credible storyline. Still, the chemistry between Oksana Akinshina and Peter Fyodorov is electric, and the film boasts sweeping visuals and an atmospheric score. In the nature of extraterrestrial films, the horror of the unknown is expounded upon. In Sputnik’s case, what they stumble upon is only mildly frightening.
Available to watch on digital platforms now.
Director: Egor Abramenko
Screenwriters: Andrei Zolotarev and Oleg Malovichko
Cast: Oksana Akinshina, Peter Fyodorov, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Anton Vasiliev, Pavel Ustinov
Distributor: Vertigo Releasing
Running Time: 114 mins