Dead Space: Downfall My Reviews 04 NOV 2010

Finally, the discovery of the mysterious alien artefact, the second “Marker” Earth has been hoping it would one day find. Located deep within a dead planet by a local mining team, plans are soon launched in order to retrieve this strange, tooled rock, and the Ishimura, a planet cracker is launched to handle the pick up.

However, something is not right. Chief Security Officer Alyssa Vincent is concerned with the unusual spike in violent crimes that has all of a sudden befallen the usually quiet mining colony, characterised by particularly bloody and brutal murders carried out by otherwise normal, everyday people.

But there isn’t time to fully investigate, as the operation to pull the massive landmass out of the planet is already underway, and soon the Marker finds itself onboard the ship, ready to undergo a series of tests and experiments as it slowly begins to make its way back towards the Earth.

However, where matters were of a minor concern before, they are about to get a whole lot more serious and attention grabbing now. Something is in amongst the colony, killing every living thing in site. And now it would seem that it may have made it onboard the Ishimura after all.

Whatever it is, Alyssa Vincent is about to enter the most horrific and bloody fight of her life… a fight for which the fragile humans are very little prepared!

Alyssa Vincent and her team blast away at the undead!

EA’s hit survival horror third person shooter, Dead Space is certainly going all out to establish itself as a proper franchise, and what better than releasing a full length animated film to act as a prequel to the game story itself?

Dead Space: Downfall hit the DVD racks in October 2008, directed by Chuck Patton and written by comic scribe/inker Jimmy Palmiotti and his comic book partner in crime, Justin Gray, with animation chores handled by Film Roman.

A gory, violent space horror, Dead Space: Downfall goes straight for the jugular, dishing up plenty of action and suspense, combined with loads of violence and a mysterious alien presence.

There is very little character development throughout this film, most of which can be attributed to the fact that most characters simply don’t stick around for long, and more importantly, the relentless pace of the film simply doesn’t allow for it.

The start of the film sets us up well for what is to come and after we are introduced to the main character Alyssa Vincent, we get stuck straight into matters as we are first tasked with solving a murder puzzle which slowly ratchets the tension right up, before being dropped right into an all out battle for survival against a very real, very alien horror!

The film juggles its suspense, drama, violence and action very well, and as such draws a viewer in from start to finish, managed to maintain its sense of enigma throughout the story as the horrific events unfold before you.

In terms of the visual front, Film Roman’s animation is pretty slick and apart from the slightly silly gun fire,  everything looks and works pretty well. In particular, the grotesque, animated dead are well depicted and Film Roman moves easily between the various forms of these distorted monsters.

The color palette naturally contains a lot of red with all the blood splatter permeating through everything and the visuals make very effective use of light and dark, to keep the suspense and horror at its maximum.

Of course, gore and brutality is at the heart of this horror survival and this film is certainly not for the squeamish – even at its animated level, some of the visuals will require you to have a particularly strong stomach to take it all in!

Aurally, the film hits all the right notes, with a great soundtrack which serves well to set up the mood for the various sequences, from the tentative investigations to the all out running for survival. Bruce Boxleitner and Kelly Hu are the only real recognised live-action actors in the voice cast and they do their respective roles quite well. However, the aggressive Nika Futterman really steals the show as the voice of Alyssa Vincent.

Wouldn't really want to meet him in a dark alley, that's for sure!

In summary then, Dead Space: Downfall succeeds 100% in what it set out to do. It is a competent, terrifying survival horror story out in space, one with no chance of a happy ending and lots, and lots of blood and body parts lying all over the place. Fans of the game will no doubt enjoy this piece of animated cinematography, while there is certainly something in there for fans of horror in general.

As for me, well I don’t really do horror normally, but putting that aside, Dead Space: Downfall is really well made and a very good ambassador for its genre, making it well worth checking out if you are into that kind of thing!

Gory death, guts and blood. You won't believe how much that stuff splatters!

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.