‘Atomica’ Keeps Your Attention, Minus the Scares

by Joe Jarosz on March 21, 2017

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Minor Rock Fist Up]

The best thing I can say about Atomica is it was better than it should have been.

Set in the not-to-distant-future, as one would expect with a sci-fi thriller, a communications station goes offline at an underground nuclear power plant isolated in the desert. Auxilisun, the company behind the nuclear plant, sends Abby Dixon (Sarah Habel), one of its best engineers, to make repairs at the station and get it back online.

Once inside the facility, Abby is quickly creeped out by Robinson (Dominic Monaghan), one of two people who work at the station. The other, Dr. Zek (Tom Sizemore) is nowhere to be seen. Robinson’s strange behavior causes Abby to question if Dr. Zek is even actually alive while at the same time doubting Robinson’s sanity. It doesn’t help when he professes he’s self-diagnosed himself with SDP, sensory Deprivation psychosis. Abby tries to downplay the diagnosis, explaining Auxilisun extensively tests their recruits. However, Robinson is having none of it, because he knows what it’s like being in the remote facility. The isolation wears on the mind.

At a brisk 92 minutes, Atomica doesn’t waste yours or the character’s time. After a couple nights in the facility, Abby starts to have weird dreams. Not nightmares, but dreams involving her father and grandmother. These were really the only scenes that I could have seen being cut. They weren’t really necessary to the character and story’s progression. Eliminating those would’ve helped director Dagen Merrill get to the third act a little quicker, because Tom Sizemore is entertaining in a limited role.

I’m actually glad I was able to watch this at home with the lights on because even though the movie wasn’t exactly scary, the score is certainly chilling. The music doesn’t hit you over the head, you may not even notice it at times, but it’s perfectly set to its isolation backdrop.

Atomica is produced by the cable network SyFy and that becomes evident at times with some of the movie’s effects. I probably wasn’t supposed to laugh, but the razor blades for the plant’s occupants look like little light sabers. It’s never explained why razor blades aren’t permitted, but regardless, the light saber razors are ultimately used in a fight and it looks like the two characters using them are fighting with miniature light sabers. This was a serious moment in the film, but like I said, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Atomica isn’t on par with the recent sci-fi theatrical releases like Arrival, The Martian or Gravity, but it’s better than it should’ve been and it kept my attention. That’s all I can ask for in a movie these days.

Syfy Films released Atomica in select Theaters on March 17. The movie hits VOD/Digital HD on March 21.

Joe Jarosz is a Midwest boy now living in California.

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