Russia, 1983. The Cold War is still raging. Two men are orbiting earth in a spacecraft, preparing for their reentry when there is an incident. And when they crash land in Kazakhstan, the commander is found dead and the flight engineer in a coma. When he awakens, he has no memory of the accident or what happened up there in space. Hoping to get to the bottom of it, secretive Colonel Semiradov (Fedor Bondarchuk) lures psychologist Tatiana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina) who is known for her unconventional methods to a remote, high security facility where the cosmonaut Konstantin Veshnyakov (Pyotr Fyodorov) is being held. It doesn’t take long for her to find out that there is an alien living inside him, and her quest becomes trying to find a way to get it out without harming the host. Director Egor Abramenko is upfront about his love of space horror flicks. “Alien was always in the DNA of Sputnik.” But it’s no rip-off. It has its own satisfying trajectory.

From the moment you meet the Colonel, there is a creepiness factor. You know that there is a hidden agenda. And once Tatiana arrives at the facility, there is tension between her and the other doctor there who fears she’ll steal his thunder by using her unorthodox means. Veshnyakov is being kept in the dark about what they know, locked away in a glass cage so they can watch as the monster comes out each night while he sleeps. But when Tatiana learns the horrifying secret that is being hidden from them both, she takes things into her own hands. (No spoilers)

The film is shot in drab subdued colors, looking a lot like the decaying Soviet Union I visited the during the film’s time period. Even though it is on terra firma, the film’s remoteness gives it a similar feel to being in space, far from any help. Oksana Akinshina is very believable as the young rogue psychologist who isn’t going to toe the party line. And the monster is just scary enough, though not mucus dripping like in Alien. All in all it’s a great space parasite flick that will keep you watching even if it is almost two hours.

Streaming now through Amazon Prime and select theaters. In Russian with subtitles.

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