When PopHorror published the article about the new horror movies being released this March, there were quite a few on there that I was excited about. With movies like The Belko Experiment, Raw and The Devil’s Candy showing up on this list, I knew March 2017 was going to be a great month for horror. To be honest, the trailer for Atomica barely tickled my Spidey senses. It looked like just more generic sci-fi/horror filler. So when I was asked to review it, I was wary but hopeful. You never know where you’re going to find your next gem, right? So what was my verdict on Atomica?
Also known as Deep Burial, Atomica will be released in theaters on March 17, 2017 and on VOD and Digital HD on March 21, 2017. The film was directed by Dagen Merrill (Beneath 2007) and written by Kevin Burke (Ultimate Spider-Man 2012), Federico Fernandez-Armesto (The Last Bite 2012) and newcomer Adam Gyngell. The cast includes executive producer Dominic Monaghan (Pet 2016), Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan 1998) and Sarah Habel (Hostel: Part III 2011). Both Jaime Burke (The Pact 2012) and Vahan Paretchan (Sequestered TV series) produced.
So here’s the deal. After nuclear power plant disaster, a company called Auxilisun invented what they called a tri-fission engine, a machine that not only cleaned up the spilled radioactive waste but could, in turn, create energy from this cleanup process – “creating a new future by cleaning up the past.” The engines were basically idiot proof and were set to last hundreds of years with barely any upkeep. Since these power plants were literally in the middle of the hot zones from previous radioactive meltdowns and the engines themselves were projected to last centuries without repair, Auxilisun employed only the bare minimum of people to work there. When one of these plants loses communications with base command, dedicated but inexperienced Abby Dixon (Habel) travels there through the surrounding hot zone to try and figure out the problem.
While she’s there, she meets the plant’s two employees – handyman Robinson (Monaghan) and Dr. Zek (Sizemore) – both of whom seem more than slightly insane. Both men think the other is trying to kill him. All Abby wants to do is fix the mechanical problem and go home. Unfortunately for her, there’s a lot more going on here than just some paranoid personalities and a few tripped wires.
Atomica impressed me with its original premise. Sure, the whole Sci-Fi thing has been done before, but I loved the fact that the world had actually figured out how to solve the nuclear radioactive waste problem and turn it into fuel. I loved the endless, labyrinthine, Alien-like corridors and deep, rusted out caverns of the plant. As far as acting, Dominic Monaghan stole the show. I wouldn’t have enjoyed Atomica as much without his impeccable comedic timing and willingness to put himself in awkward and uncomfortable situations. The plot itself kept me jumping – he must be the bad guy. Oh, wait, maybe he’s the bad guy. Nope! It’s the first guy. Okay, so maybe they’re both bad guys? I never saw the final climax coming because I was too distracted by Monaghan and the jumping bean plot. But that’s a good thing.
What Doesn’t Work
I hate to be one of those people that complain about the CGI, but here I am, complaining about the CGI. There wasn’t much in Atomica but what I did see was glaringly bad. When a transport with 1,000 degree rocket thrusters passes by, it should go over your head, not through it. I also couldn’t understand why Abby only needed a simple motorcycle helmet to keep herself from radiation sickness when the other two had to wear heavy duty hazmat suits. Sure, they were there longer than she was, but you’d think she’d at least want all of her skin covered when she stepped out into the radioactive air.
These quibbles are nitpicky. Atomica is a twisting, turning trip into the future where the road to Hell is still paved with the best intentions. Don’t assume that because this is a SyFy Films movie, it’s going to be a rehashing of all of the other stuff you’ve seen sent down the assembly line. Atomica will keep your interest and leave you wondering just who the bad guy in this film really is.