Director: Ruairi Robinson
Writers: Sydney J. Bounds (short story), Clive Dawson (screenplay)
Stars: Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garai
I really wanted to like The Last Days on Mars. I really tried to like it. For one thing I’m a sucker for alien type films – I can enjoy the crappiest film if it includes an isolated group of bickering characters getting progressively chomped on by an ornery monster. And it has a great cast – a perfect cast for this kind of thing – a mixture of American and English character actors, most of whom you recognise without quite remembering their names. But… I don’t know. It’s not that The Last Days on Mars is bad, in all honesty it’s perfectly acceptable and made with some skill. I just think I expected more of it than being a more expensive, less imaginative remake of Planet of the Vampires.
A group of scientists are coming to the end of their term on Mars, wrapping up their work gathering samples and researching minerals. It’s a bad time, therefore, for Marko (Goran Kostic) to discover the fossilized evidence of bacterial life. While investigating further the ground collapses beneath him and he he falls into a cave, dying instantly. The bacteria, however, has some unforseen side effects: it causes anyone who suffers any kind of skin abrasion to turn into a crusty faced zombie, determined to infect anyone and everyone around them. Who will survive? And if they do, will escaping only serve to spread the infection further?
Based on a short story by pulp novelist Sydney J. Bounds and adapted by Clive Dawson, this offers very little that’s new to the genre; in fact it plays very much like a science fiction version of The Bunker, the horror film which Dawson wrote back in 2001. In its favour, the characters are well – if briefly sketched – and the visuals are wonderful. But once the action kicks in it all becomes rather confused and strangely lacking in tension; there’s a lack of stillness acting as a contrast to the more frantic action. All of which means that it ends up being a decent it somewhat disappointing b-movie with aspirations.