400 Days (Movie Review)

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: During an intense simulated space mission, four astronauts begin to feel the psychological strain during their time locked away. As the mission progresses, they begin to question if there is more danger just outside of their claustrophobic shelter. 

REVIEW: At one point during the low budget feature 400 DAYS, it shifts from psychological thriller to what could be taken as a Twilight Zone episode. It is a strange shift that may not necessarily work, but you have to credit writer/director Matt Osterman for making the attempt. In the film four astronauts must face off against each other, all the while trapped inside a simulated space station. In addition, they find themselves confronted by a series of strange circumstances, ones that may or may not be real. Throughout this sci-fi feature, I found a little promise in the familiar story, yet it didn’t quite live up to its possibilities. Much of it feels recycled and it didn’t help that a couple of the characters are really damn grating. And yes, one of them is Dane Cook – also credited as an executive producer.

Brandon Routh plays Theo, a seemingly troubled man who is picked up from a brief stint in jail. His boss Walter (Grant Bowler from SyFy’s Defiance) brings him straight to a press conference, where Theo and three other astronauts are about to embark on a simulated space mission. Soon, Theo, along with his ex Emily (Caity Lotz) – it’s complicated – as well as sensitive and childlike Bug (Ben Feldman) and loudmouth jerk Dvorak (Cook) all head to an underground shelter, one designed to face the challenges of going to space. The “trip,” as the title would suggest, is 400 Days. A long time. And as their mission progresses, tempers flair, and reality is questioned. This leads to a very real possibility that something has gone wrong above ground. I won’t give away too much, but let’s just say there is a serious tonal shift as the story progresses.

Early on, before the astronauts head into the shelter, the character introductions feel very generic. The only one we really get a sense of is Routh’s Theo. The others appear, and none of them at this point seem to have any real depth. Sure this is only an introduction, but it fails to really create much of an interest in what is going on. However, things do get better once the four astronauts are locked inside the shelter. This is when we learn more about the other three. And while both Theo and Emily are fine, the one character that stood out to me was Bug. Feldman also has what is probably the most to do emotionally, and his performance was strong. This is not necessarily true for Dane Cook. His a-hole with an attitude wore thin. It’s not a bad performance per say, but I didn’t care at all about what happened to Dvorak.

400 DAYS is a long time, but I will give the film credit as it moves rather quickly. With probably over half the film set in the shelter, Osterman manages to create a little life in this sci-fi flick. That can also be a bit of a curse for 400 DAYS. The four characters hardly grow, aside from a few superficial emotional revelations. And even more annoying, their appearance doesn't change all that much at all. After over a year you’d think they’d either appear a tad more sickly or maybe they'd have a beard or something. Nope, nothing. Theo and crew appeared to be stuck in this human habitrail closer to 4 weeks as opposed to how long the title suggests. And the second half of the film makes a very quick change without all that much tension. This is just over ninety minutes and it thankfully didn’t necessarily overstay its welcome. Albeit it may have had a lot more of an impact had they tried.

The script, also by Osterman, follows a familiar path. You can find elements of everything from ALIEN to EVENT HORIZON, and then you have the final Twilight Zone-esque act. For a moment, I really enjoyed the change that occurs because at least is takes the story in a new direction. Unfortunately this final series of events is a bit of a letdown. It is near impossible to explain much without giving anything away, but as you are watching you can generally see where it is all heading. That is not to say there aren’t any surprises in store. I really enjoyed the introduction of Tom Cavanagh – I hardly recognized him at first – but I’ll say no more about that. And while I do find that an open ending can actually enhance the story, the final couple of minutes in this feel more like a cheat.

400 DAYS is a low budget feature film with a decent cast. And while it has a few intriguing thoughts behind it, it feels like they are slightly wasted. If you’ve seen any sort of stranded in space flick, then you will get the gist of this very quickly. Writer and director Matt Osterman has a few interesting ideas, but they aren’t explored nearly as well as they could have been. There are a few surprises along the way, and occasionally it works. If you are looking for a couple of hours to waste on a sci-fi flick, then you may entertain in this. However, for fans of science fiction, this ultimately falls short of being anything more than perhaps worth a watch on Netflix.

400 Days (Movie Review)


Source: AITH

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.