400 Days tells the story of four wanna-be astronauts taking part in an experiment that sees them living together in a realistic space capsule simulator for 400 days to determine the mental effects of deep-space travel. As the days pass, strange things start to happen to the crew and in the end, not everything is at it seems… or is it?
Writer and director Matt Osterman has explored an interesting premise; what happens when you’re stuck with the same people in a confined area for a lengthy period of time with no communication with the outside world? It is, of course, a recipe for a psychological, sci-fi thriller that leaves the audience, as well as the characters, questioning what the hell is going on.
As the film slowly progresses through the first 100 or so days, the vast differences between the four main characters begin to become more apparent and we can only assume that the emerging conflict will be their downfall and the subsequent failure of the experiment. This isn’t necessarily the case as Osterman throws in a range of mind-boggling and unexpected roadblocks to throw not just the group, but the audience off course. These include confusing hallucinations, potential poisonings, half-human/half-something intruders and a possible post-apocalyptic world.
All actors play their roles well as contrasting team mates trying to work together to successfully fulfil the experiment, pressured constantly by the awareness that failure will result in them not being chosen to go into space. It’s interesting, and somewhat surprising, to see comedian/comedic actor Dane Cook (Good Luck Chuck) in a completely different role to his usual, taking on a character who borders on being a sociopathic maniac with serious control issues.
In contrast to Dane’s controlling and violent character, Ben Feldman (Cloverfield) plays the quiet and un-assuming math whiz, Bug, who mentally struggles with the simulated isolation more than the others. At times he loses control of his sanity and is constantly tormented by guilt for leaving his young son and wife alone for such a long time.
The normally perky and smiling Tom Cavanagh (The Flash) takes on a much more sinister character, whose cunning smile this time strikes fear in the hearts of the audience. Despite not being on screen for long, his presence is alarming and leaves a permanent impression on the minds of the audience.
Though it doesn’t quite hit the mark of an amazing sci-fi thriller, 400 Days is still an entertaining mind-maze that will keep you guessing right down to the last second (and possibly even thereafter).
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Rating out of 10: 6
400 Days will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on 29 October 2015.