Fits and starts

Published date27 February 2024
Publication titleSignal
IF you are looking for elegant and classy science fiction, then right now, Apple is the streamer to beat. Joining the likes of For All Mankind, Silo and Severance is Constellation, a predictably elegant and classy exploration of what might happen when an astronaut goes into space and doesn’t come back the same. It is part space horror, part psychological thriller, and at times, it looks stunning. However, a word of caution; it is uneven and almost stubbornly slow, and it takes its first three episodes to even begin to start wrangling its plot into shape

It is a shame it is so dogged in its lack of consistency, because there is much to recommend. There are several strands to follow, across different timelines and with different characters played by the same actors, but it starts out as horror, ripped straight from the bleak midwinter. Noomi Rapace is excellent as Jo Ericsson, a Swedish astronaut who has recently returned to Earth, and who appears to have taken her daughter, Alice, away to a sinister cabin in the snow. Jo is agitated and confused, and keeps playing a recording of something, presumably a very bad something, that happened in space, much to Alice’s distress. It is all the more creepy for giving us no idea about what is supposed to be happening.

It is worth getting used to that feeling, because like Jo, the viewer is kept in a state of perpetual confusion. After the eeriness of the cabin, complete with my guaranteed fear-trigger, the creepy disembodied screams of a child, we cut to the events leading up to it. Jo is part of a team aboard the International Space Station, whose mission should be relatively routine. But during a FaceTime with her family, there is a collision, and things start to go downhill. (The prevalence of Apple products is almost funny: Jo uses an iPad to speak to Alice from space, and an Apple Watch to keep track of time during a particularly crucial activity. I’m surprised they didn’t call it the iSS.)

There are a couple of perfect jump-scares that set this up as a potential heir to Gravity. We know that Jo makes it back to Earth, or at least, we have to assume that she does, because we have seen her in the future, reconnecting with her family. But after the tight thrills of the disaster, it loosens its grip. Jonathan Banks appears as a former Nobel prize-winning...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT