Film Review: 400 Days

This simulated space-travel odyssey, featuring four characters locked together in a capsule, has just enough plot twists and suspense to keep you from going (like them) too stir-crazy. I said “just.”
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This feature debut from the usually quite cheesy Syfy outfit proposes a space-travel simulation featuring four willing volunteers who agree to be tested to the limits of their endurance. One brainy, pretty woman, Emily (Caity Lotz), is thrown together with three men: Theo (Brandon Routh), queasily just released from a drunk tank after being unceremoniously dumped by his fiancée; Bug (Ben Feldman), who, as his name might imply, is a total space nerd, and Dvorak (Dane Cook), a pushy, swaggering a-hole.

If you are a fan of claustrophobic thrillers, 400 Days is definitely for you. At first, given the extremely constricted circumstances of the situation, you might think, “What else could happen, besides the characters going stir-crazy and eventually turning on each other?” But writer-director Matt Osterman has a couple of very wild cards up his sleeve, which up the suspense and keep you engaged, although, without giving too much away, one of them is a tiresome evocation of Night of the Living Dead. Some moments of humor occur, especially in the exchanges between total opposites Bug and Dvorak, but, unfortunately, the universally lily-white characters are such shallow, single-note conceptions that you cannot get all that emotionally involved in their survival.

The film is quite well done from a technical standpoint, which helps to no end. Doubtlessly made on a limited budget, it has a perfect, clinically pristine look to it, evoking 2001: A Space Odyssey and myriad other rocketship opuses.

The actors do what they can to flesh out the skeletal outlines of their roles.   Routh and Feldman are interchangeably handsome in a blandly brunette, male-model manner, although the first is stuck as stalwart leading man and the second just geeks out continually. Cook does his specialty, brutish weisenheimer–think William Bendix on too many steroids, and you have to wonder if his movie typecasting ever gets him down. (He was the one standup comedian whom Joan Rivers, usually unfailingly generous to those in her profession, said she never got.) Lotz competently plays out the womanly paragon she is here assigned:  thoroughly professional, sensitive and nurturing to a fault and, most importantly, of course, blonde.

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