Solis film review EIFF 2018: stranded in space

Steven Ogg’s astronaut fights for survival in indie SF Solis

A low budget debut feature, Solis comes across like Gravity meets Sunshine. The Gravity link is that – spoiler for Gravity – it’s a one-actor show in which said star fights for survival in the wake of a space accident. The Sunshine tie is the fact the lead’s ship is heading towards, well, the sun.

One-actor show isn’t quite accurate, actually, as there’s also the disembodied voice of a familiar performer for the visually present star to converse with. Moon had Kevin Spacey perform this role, while Solis has Alice Lowe as the commander of a ship looking to save the film’s protagonist before the vessel he’s on is obliterated by the sun. So, one might say this Sunshine-resembling film also has a bit of a Moonshine to it.

Astronaut Troy Holloway (Steven Ogg of The Walking Dead) awakens aboard an escape pod. His mining company colleague lies dead in the seat next to him; the fellow traveller was mortally wounded in the aftermath of a space accident, while another man perished aboard the ship they had fled. Holloway’s pod is drifting towards the sun, with no way of turning back, and his oxygen is running out. The only chance of rescue comes via Commander Roberts (Lowe), whose help he is hesitant to accept as he wonders if he even wants to be saved.

With Roberts projecting an ETA for the rescue party’s arrival, the film plays out in close to real time, though it’s pretty loose with that. And despite the seemingly brisk runtime and chaos driving the plot, Solis is a strangely lethargic film.

The effects are solid and there’s initial intrigue, but that the script has to rely on so much exposition and back-story to encourage one to care about Holloway, instead of just playing off the high concept hook of the premise of someone stranded in space, suggests that the entirely wrong lessons were learned from Gravity.

One of Holloway’s key lines in the film’s last act is an exclamation he’ll be going home. Well before that point, one might wish the viewer had been allowed to do the same.

Solis was seen and reviewed at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.