Screamers is a futuristic Sci-Fi Horror set on another planet, Sirius 6B. The film starts off very poorly with a narrative spoken in a robotic voice, indicating that Screamers will be no more than Z-grade garbage. Luckily, Screamers proves to be a respectable, suspense filled film that superbly displays the extremes of raw human emotions.
Screamers always has the advantage that it was written by Philip K. Dick, the author whose stories lead to Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report. Whilst Screamers is no way in the same league as these films, it is much more thought provoking and gripping than other Sci-Fi films on a similar budget. The pace at which the plot moves is extremely intense; it seizes the attention of the audience and leaves them waiting for the next scene. The relationships between each character are all very compelling; every character has their own little story which ensures Screamers does not become one dimensional.
Peter Weller is excellent in his role as Hendrickson. I’ve only seen him in Robocop so it is good to know he is not simply good at playing a robot. His character is complex as he misses earth, yet has submitted to being stuck on Sirius 6B. His relationship with Jessica (Jennifer Rubin) develops wonderfully throughout the film and is a good contrast to the horror taking place. Jennifer Rubin also puts on a great performance as her character starts as a mystery and gradually opens up in to someone the audience really cares for.
The “Screamers” are a tremendous idea as underground defence robots who adapt to produce a new, human looking batch of screamers. The sound they make is very chilling and really brings up the hairs on the back of your neck; this is greatly reflected in the characters reactions on hearing the screams. Sadly, poor stop motion effects mean it is a disappointment when it comes to seeing the screamers attack but it is not hard to overlook special effects for a good story.
It is a shame Screamers wasn’t given more budget as it had potential to be a truly great film. I don’t care about special effects very much but I feel the films vision could have been realised more if there was more money in this area. Also some of the sets are poorly designed as there appears to be a lack of effort in some places. The outlook is supposed to be bleak but the director does little to emphasise this.
Possibly the best thing about Screamers is the end. With paranoia levels reaching those in The Thing, the twist at the end is very surprising and tense. Weller and Rubin really shine in these scenes and do well to affect the audience’s emotions. The script, which is good throughout, is also especially good in the final sequence.
With more money behind it and better direction, Screamers would be a Sci-Fi classic, as it is, Screamers is an underrated, well acted, great story.