Action is a fun, visceral, and exciting movie genre where the viewer is swept up in intense and often over-the-top happenings. It’s relatively straightforward though and often predictable. Conflicts are generally in black-and-white and a hero will almost always triumph over the villain. What happens though when you pair action with more imaginative genres, like horror and science fiction? In his latest film, Cosmic Sin, writer/director Edward Drake (Broil) and his co-writer Corey Large (The Ninth Passenger) attempt to do just that by combining elements of ensemble action films with alien invasion horror, and the larger cosmic diplomacy questions of franchises like Star Trek. The result is a fun, flawed, film with a great atmosphere, but a deeply frustrating final act.

Cosmic Sin is set in the year 2542. In this future world, space exploration and colonization are a reality thanks to inventions like terraforming, starships, and quantum propulsion technology. A united Earth governmental and military body called The Alliance is responsible for the establishment and defense of humanity’s new planets. The film’s cold opening introduces viewers to the Alliance’s most infamous ex-member, The “Blood General,” James Ford (Bruce Willis), who was thrown out of the military for using a futuristic Weapon of Mass Destruction called a “Q-Bomb” to wipe out the 70 million people inhabiting a colony that tried to secede from the Alliance.

 

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After news of a potential alien insurrection gets back to Earth, Alliance General Ryle (Frank Grillo The Purge: Anarchy) decides to recruit Ford and a handful of soldiers and scientists for a desperate mission; a preemptive strike with a Q-bomb against the aliens to stop an interstellar war before it starts. In your standard action film, there would be no question of the righteousness of Ryle and Ford’s mission, but what makes Cosmic Sin so watchable is that you’re not certain if the heroes are doing the right thing. Characters question the moral and legal implications of what they’re doing and even the ones in favor, like Ford, express how difficult it’s going to be to live with the consequences of their actions.


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That uncertainty along with the mysterious nature of the film’s aliens imbues Cosmic Sin with a sense of dread and tragedy that allows it to rise above some of its shortcomings, like clunky dialogue and a story that escalates too quickly. You’re able to look past those things though because there are some fun and classic elements of alien invasion horror and there’s a constant awareness that the characters are on the verge of making a tragic and irrevocable mistake. That feeling is maintained and heightened as Ford and Ryle’s team have several disastrous encounters with the aliens.

 

“…a fun, flawed, film with a great atmosphere, but a deeply frustrating final act.”

 

The aliens are an enigmatic and imposing force throughout the movie and I love that. It makes them creepy but also heightens the paranoia and tension. We’re left to wonder if we’re letting our fear judge them. There’s also a nicely executed and surreal psychic encounter between Ford and some aliens that adds further layers of ambiguity to the invader’s true intentions.

There is a low-budget feel to some of the visuals in Cosmic Sin, but cinematographer Brandon Cox lights everything in neon colors that add to the ominous feel and Scott Glasgow’s score pumps up the tension. Drake & Large’s future has a distinctly lived-in feel to it where fashion, bars, and weaponry are mostly familiar but there are also more high-tech toys like teleporters and battle suits that allow soldiers to navigate the vacuum of space. It gives you the sense that even 400 years in the future humanity is still very flawed and hung up on violence and fear.


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The performances in Cosmic Sin are serviceable, but there are a few standouts. Frank Grillo’s natural charisma makes him a believable military leader and he does a great job illustrating his character’s doubts with subtlety in his body language and line readings. Adelaide Kane (MTV’s Teen Wolf) is also good as Fiona Ardene, an engineer who finds herself in-over-her-head when she’s suddenly recruited into Operation: Cosmic Sin, giving the film a much-needed every-person perspective.

Cosmic Sin has a number of small flaws, but most of them are forgivable. In the finale, however, choices are made that feel inconsistent with the rest of the film. So much so, that it makes me wonder if the ending was reshot. If that’s the case, the filmmakers made the wrong choice because, sadly, I absolutely hated the ending of Cosmic Sin. It felt wrong, especially when you think about all the directions the movie could have gone. That said, if you’re looking for a movie that mixes horror, action, and sci-fi in some fun and interesting ways, check out Cosmic Sin. Just brace yourself for a frustrating ending.

 

Cosmic Sin is available in select theatres, On Demand and Digitial now! Let us know what you thought of the action/sci-fi-horror over on TwitterRedditFacebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.

 

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