It has been said, mostly by people far more intelligent than I, that what you get from a film can be determined by what you bring to it. For example, watching a film starring a favourite actor or from a respected director may garner a certain amount of good will regardless of the quality. This is the case with Stranded from director Roger Christian who's previous credits include Battlefield Earth. Unlike that film his new production knows its limitations and is targeted squarely at the sci-fi horror genre.
The film opens as a remote mining operation on the Moon is hit by a violent and unexpected meteor storm. In charge is Colonel Gerard Brauchman (Christian Slater) as various sections of the base become damaged by repeated strikes. Ava Cameron (Amy Matysio) is dispatched to repair some of the more urgent areas while Brauchman, medical officer Dr. Lance Krauss (Brendan Fehr) and engineer Bruce Johns (Michael Therriault) battle to restore the air supply and keep the limited power resources running. When Cameron returns with a sample of the rock which contains alien spores she and the doctor are curious as to its genetic makeup. While preparing the samples Cameron cuts her finger and becomes exposed to the spores, something she keeps hidden from the remainder of the crew. Over the next few hours whatever has infected her begins to gestate inside until she gives birth to an as yet unidentified creature. The group then find themselves in battle for survival against an alien lifeform and rapidly diminishing resources.
There is little doubt that Stranded knows exactly what it is. There are no moral wagging fingers here dishing out warnings and profundities to the audience on the dangers of this and that. Stranded is just a good old science fiction drama with an alien thrown in for good measure. There are nods to the Ridley Scott masterpiece, along with numerous others, but never does it take itself too seriously, or slip into parody.
The cast do everything required of them even with a slightly ropey script. Some of the lines of dialogue even made me cringe a little but are always delivered with a straight face and with as much sincerity as possible. The direction is effective in creating an claustrophobic atmosphere in the cramped surroundings of the base even if the majority of scenes are shot in just one or two locations. The monster is less effective and poorly used in its true form but this could be down to budget constraints more than plot based, and is never really scary but there are a few jump cuts and gore to keep the audience interested.
On the whole Stranded sort of works and sort of doesn't. As I said it depends a great deal on your state of mind when watching it. If its late on a Friday night, you've had a few beers and there's nothing else on you could really find yourself enjoying this film and then forgetting all about it in the morning. This would apply to a greater degree if, like me, you are a Christian Slater fan and still carry the hope he will make a good film one day. If you approach Stranded expecting not to enjoy it then you won't; its that simple.
To sum up this is a genre B-movie with few pretensions that isn't for everyone. If you remember low budget sci-fi with fondness it could be perfect for you!