[A group of astronauts] embark on a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to investigate the possible existence of alien life within our solar system. When unmanned probes suggest that a hidden ocean could exist underneath Europa’s icy surface and may contain single-celled life, Europa Ventures, a privately funded space exploration company, sends six of the best astronauts from around the world to confirm the data and explore the revolutionary discoveries that may lie in the Europan ocean. After a near-catastrophic technical failure that leads to loss of communication with Earth and the tragic death of a crewmember, the surviving astronauts must overcome the psychological and physical toll of deep space travel, and survive a discovery on Europa more profound than they had ever imagined. (source: seat42f.com)
“Found footage” as a genre is a curious beast.
The films which call it home are put together in such a way that we’re led to believe that the footage survived all manner of terrible events, was found by those who went in search of the unfortunates who filmed it (and usually didn’t survive doing so) and reconstructed as a documentary of their terrible ordeal.
Done well – The Blair Witch Project (1999), Monster (2008), Cloverfield (2008) and Paranormal Activity (2009) are notable examples – these films have a real, visceral quality and an immediacy that can’t help but capture your attention.
While not a genre to be consumed en masse by those with an aversion to shaky hand-held cameras, they are a great way of drawing audiences almost immediately into the action, and if they’re compelling enough, not letting them go till the hopefully satisfying conclusion.
And there’s the rub.
So many of them are all spooky, intriguing set up with often a fair to middling payoff.
If you’re going to tantalise, then you need to deliver, and deliver impressively.
The buzz around Europa Report suggests it will do just that.
Visually stunning – its filmmaking artistry and representations of deep space have been compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Moon (2009) by space.com – it takes its premise from the idea that there is life in that there moon, Europa, life that may hold the secrets to where humanity came from, and whether we are truly alone in this big galaxy of ours.
Of course, as you might be expecting all that scientific curiosity and the philosophical musings that come with it do not always lead to the bright promised land we are expecting (Prometheus made that very clear).
And often it goes horribly, terribly wrong, and we’re reminded, yet again, that life is a fragile thing.
Europa Report looks like it will tick all the found footage genre boxes, as well as fulfilling all of the big bad monster at the end of the road promises it makes, which means all we need now is a devastatingly great ending.
We find out if it has one when it releases on 27 June this year (internet only) and in US theatres on 2 August.