“400 Days” is an interestingly ambitious low budget sci-fi effort. Writer/director Matt Osterman made it for well under a million dollars and the credits tell us it was edited on the low budget editing programme Final Cut Pro 7. Visually he’s got a lot of bang for his buck.
The story concerns four would-be astronauts – three men and a woman – who agree to spend 400 days in an underground fake space ship as a sort of dress rehearsal for deep space travel. However when things begin to grow wrong – they lose contact with control, the oxygen supply starts to fail and some rather spooky things start to happen – they begin to wonder what exactly it is that they have signed up for. So they venture outside the ship to find out.
Osterman has recruited four appealing actors best known from American tv for his main cast, led by Brandon Routh (Theo), who looks a bit like the young Tom Cruise and who, you may remember, had a brief spell in the movie limelight as the new Superman in 2006. Crew member Emily (Caity Lotz) is also, it turns out, Theo’s former girlfriend – opportunity for a bit of sexual tension there. The others in the team are Ben Feldman (a bit of an Al Pacino when young lookalike), who plays a father feeling guilty about leaving his young son and Dane Cook, who provides a bit of coarse weave with his character.
The first part of the film potters along well enough in the surprisingly good looking set for the money as we get to know the characters – though they don’t seem to have much to do in the way of astronaut type duties. But when things start to go weird and they decide to go outside and see what is going on there, our suspension of belief is increasingly strained as they encounter some very odd things indeed. This might be forgiven if we were given some sort of ultimate explanation, however outrageous. But the frustrating thing about this movie is that it has no ending to speak of. We are left in the air (albeit underground).
Review by Carol Allen