Best horror movie of the year


Starring Oksana Akinshina, Pyotr Fyodorov and Fyodor Bondarchuk

Rated MA15+

Sputnik is a riveting Russian sci-fi horror film directed by Egor Abramenko.

In 1983, Soviet cosmonaut Konstantin (Pyotr Fyodorov) brings a deadly alien creature back to Earth inside his body, and psychiatrist Dr. Tatyana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina) is enlisted to study the creature and separate it from its host.

Sputnik draws heavy suspense not only from the fierce, unpredictable creature within Konstantin, but from the treacherous landscape of bureaucracy and deception he and Tatyana must navigate.

As Tatyana learns to interact with and calm the creature, the human characters grow more unsettling as their deeper motivations are revealed, and the plot cleverly links Konstantin’s troubled past with his current plight.

The film has a subtle, eerie electronic score and stark cinematography. While the film frequently shows the creature and has several graphic moments, the terror is still left to the viewer’s imagination when it really counts, which is the mark of truly effective horror.

Popular media often portrays aliens as either benevolent or antagonistic, with humans as the real monsters, but it’s rare to find a film that so confidently portrays sympathy and menace on both sides.

Sputnik is a tense, nuanced and character-driven sci-fi film in the style of Alien, Arrival and Solaris, and is available for rent and purchase on iTunes.

– Seth Lukas Hynes