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  • Nate Lemann


Updated: Jul 16

Our No. 25 film in our Alien Horror Summer series is the 2013 release about a mission to uncover new potential life on Jupiter’s moon Europa, serving as both a cautionary tale and mediation on the price of discovery.

by Nate Lemann

“Europa Report”
“Europa Report”

While 2013’s Europa Report may not be as traditional a horror story as others on our list, the film does follow a similar structure of a horror movie: we observe the horrific deaths of crew members one-by-one, and while there may not be a traditional monster that causes an impending sense of dread, the real monster in this story is the cost of grappling with the vast and harsh environment of space.

The film follows the voyage of Europa One, a private expedition of a group on international astronauts as they voyage to Europa, a moon of Jupiter, after the discovery of a pocket of water may have been seen from a probe. The crew is made up of a cast of ably great character actors: Sharlto Copley as the lovable engineer James; the late, great Michael Nyqvist as the haunted Andrei; Daniel Wu as the stern and assured Captain William; Karolina Wydra as the idealistic Katya; Christian Camargo as the ponderous Daniel; and the wonderfully tender Anamaria Marinca as the pilot Rosa.

Director Sebastian Cordero stages this story like a found footage discovery of what happened on this fateful journey, only showing us what is in view of the ships camera footage, with talking head narration from the program heads back on earth (led by the wonderfully vulnerable Embeth Davidtz). Their journey starts out with beautifully positive optimism, but as the cameras get more glitchy, we start to descend into the horrors that the harsh environment of space has to offer. As the body count starts to rise, we are shown the true horror and awe of space’s dominion of over man.

That is not to say this project doesn’t potentially hint at an alien life force potentially screwing with the mission but Cordero isn’t interested to make this a creature feature. Instead, the alien is representative of an indifferent environment to the insignificant presence of man. Man is just scratching the surface of possibility of life in the universe and we just may be outclassed by what we stand to discover.

As the story does go along, there becomes a notable theme of what sacrifice it takes to make a discovery as monumental as the one the Europa One stands to make. The person who feels the toll heaviest is the absolutely wonderful Nyqvist: the man was truly one of the most underrated actors of the last few decades, imbuing his role with gravitas and dignity in equal measure. He has one particular moment of cathartic release that is as powerful a scene as I’ve scene in a space exploration movie.


FINAL RATING: 4/5 Stars (Novel and economically made space exploration thriller) 

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Hi! I'm Nate and I love to talk all things movies. I'll be posting new reviews, recent rewatches, and much more on this site. So come on and let's talk movies! 

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