It is truly shocking that this is getting berated as an inferior rehash of The Thing or 2001 (or even, strangely, Gravity). If anything, it is closer to 28 Days Later - but, on Mars. The cinematography is beautiful, the soundtrack is refined and subtle, and the story may be flawed but it was engaging. Not to mention the wonderful landscapes. It has much more heart and nuance than other gory, space/alien horror films.
Every science fiction film created after the '80s is either a variation of Alien or The Thing. This film borrows elements from both. As such, it is derivative, predictable, cliché ridden. It also shares several affinities with another recent sci-fi effort, Europa Report (the two are almost indistinguishable). Watchable, passable, but nowhere as inventive as Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars.
I'm trying to imagine the leap of faith the actors had to make when they first saw the monsters. "Skeletor? Really? You paid a lot for this film and this is what you came up with?" Smash, kill, gaaaargh! Good actors, too.
Having followed Robinson's string of short films, I really wanted him to succeed at features. Yet this is so painful. I point the finger at Clive Dawson's screenplay. The plot can be distilled to: scientists on Mars discover something then "RAWRR!". At least try to explain why everything in outer space leads to psychosis and homicide instead of a mild skin rash. Watching smart characters being dumb is excruciating.
Normally these Space Cowboys are either highfalutin engineering theoreticians or gruff blue-collar oil riggers, but here they're white collar, with all the passive-aggression and tired side-eyes expected from overworked middle managers. Perhaps related: notable for a meditative moment on (zombie) consciousness rarely explored in its fatigued genre. The cinematography invoked early survival horror. Underrated.