Netflix‘s space survival drama Stowaway is an intense and claustrophobic watch that knows how to make the audience feel lonely, writes Laumata Lauano.
The three-person crew of Hyperion’s Mars expedition knew the risks of travelling to Mars—and the preparation required. Two of them, medical researcher Zoe (Anna Kendrick) and the quiet, jazz-enthusiast biologist David (Daniel Dae Kim) trained for three years just to get aboard. The third, Commander Marina Barnett (Toni Collette), is a seasoned veteran with two space-travel missions already under her belt.
However, the titular character (discovered by Marina hidden in a compartment on board hours after launching) is understandably freaked the heck out when he comes to.
No-one knows how Michael (Shamier Anderson), a launch pad engineer, got there. All they know is that he’s injured, had been jammed into the ceiling of the spaceship and soon enough they realise his presence isn’t just a danger to their lives but their moral compasses as there’s no way to go back and there seems to be no way for all of them to survive.
Before I go on, isn’t it refreshing to hear Collette’s Australian accent on screen? I must say it was quite a delight, and that’s coming from a Kiwi.
And, not gonna lie I’m a fan of Kendrick’s charm, so I appreciate the amiable banter Zoe has with David, her endearing respectfulness towards Marina and the bond she begins to form with Michael. I suppose this makes the ending of the film much harder on me however I’ll avoid giving too much away.
Anyway Zoe, David, and Marina work tirelessly to stretch their resources to accommodate Michael, who turns out to be a really nice guy, working toward a Mechanical Engineering degree while supporting his younger sister. He’s not about to wallow about and be a waste of space (see what I did there) and volunteers to help in any way possible.
His good nature makes the situation’s unavoidable truth difficult to face. We know there’s a dwindling oxygen supply, and we know that attempts to mitigate could all be in vain as only three can survive.
Doesn’t bode well for the likeable Michael.
I appreciate that the characters don’t immediately descend into a Lord of the Flies situation despite some tension between rational and emotional reactions, and between morality and immorality—which could make Stowaway feel even more confined and claustrophobic than it does, set aboard the confines of what could be considered a rickety spaceship and featuring but four characters. You don’t even hear who they’re talking to when communicating with those on the ground. You’re always hearing one side of a conversation—which can be a bit lonely.
I suppose writers Joe Penna and Ryan Morrison (Arctic) know how to make an audience feel lonely, as this isn’t their first survival rodeo.
Directed by Penna, Stowaway puts a lot of questions to us, and makes us ask a lot of questions—whether it be space, morality, or plot-related. By the end? You’re not sure if these questions are all answered.