Irish director Ruairi Robinson's sci-fi horror The Last Days on Mars might make space travel enthusiasts a little less eager to emigrate to the planet next door. Shot on location in Jordan and at Shepperton Studios on the UK, the film tells the story of a group of astronauts who are collecting specimens on Mars when they discover some specimens that probably should have been left behind. Based on a short story by Sydney James Bounds and adapted by the screen by Clive Dawson (The Bunker), The Last Days on Mars screened at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and is set for a late 2013 release.
There's been a fair amount of interest in Robinson's feature directorial debut since he grabbed attention with 2011 horror short Blinky™, a cautionary tale about an angry boy (played by Max Records) who pays the price for saying the wrong thing to his home robot helper. Two new trailers for The Last Days on Mars have now been released, offering a first look at the next stage of Robinson's directing career. Be warned that the UK trailer below is red band and contains some rather nasty gore effects.
The trailers give away very little about the plot and main threat of The Last Days on Mars, but they do succeed in showcasing some the ensemble cast who will no doubt be the driving force behind the drama. In addition to Liev Schreiber, the film also features Elias Koteas, star of David Cronenberg's Crash as well as more recent thrillers like Zodiac and Shutter Island. Less well-known actors include Olivia Williams (An Education) and female lead Romola Garai (The Hour).
It's Schreiber's visage, however, that heavily dominates the poster for The Last Days of Mars, the formatting of which unfortunately makes it look like a tiny astronaut is running away from a giant Schreiber that's about to eat him.
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One thing that comes across strongly in both trailers is a very clear Alien vibe, right down to the characters finding something under the planet's surface, a crewmember returning to the ship with a broken faceplate and something that looks like it could be a chest-bursting scene. The other film that will no doubt crop up a lot in comparisons is Duncan Jones' feature directorial debut Moon, which was also made on a limited budget and was set on one of the desolate wastelands of our solar system.
If Last Days of Mars is an Alien rip-off, however, that's not necessarily a bad thing; if The Last Days on Mars is going to borrow heavily from another movie then Alien has some very deep pockets. Besides which, The Last Days on Mars looks just different enough to get away with it, featuring what looks like zombified humans as its main monsters and set on the surface of Mars rather than in the confines of a spaceship.
The Last Days on Mars ultimately looks like someone took Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Prometheus, Moon, 28 Days Later and possibly Ghosts of Mars, then stuck them in a high-speed blender, but it's been a while since we last had a good sci-fi horror about a crew of astronauts being attacked by space zombies, so this will be a welcome addition to 2013's roster.
The Last Days on Mars will be available to order on VOD from October 31st, 2013, and will also receive a limited theatrical release on December 6th.