Review: Sci-fi thriller ‘Atomica’ runs low on energy

Sarah Habel in the sci-fi thriller "Atomica."
(Syfy Films)

“Atomica” is set in a corporatized-energy future based on repurposing radiation after catastrophically disastrous leaks. The premise has tantalizing possibility: An isolated nuclear power plant in one of the uninhabitable contaminated areas shows signs of malfunction — mechanically and in the case of its long-forgotten onsite workers, maybe psychologically.

But Dagen Merrill’s thriller, made under the Syfy channel’s banner, is strictly cheap-TV genre fare that might have passed muster as an average episode of “The Outer Limits,” but over feature length simply feels slipshod and dull. Your internal Geiger counter for measuring expository dialogue and ill-advised actions will go haywire when young go-getter engineer Abby (Sarah Habel) ventures out alone to repair the remote plant and can’t immediately figure out that the janitor Robinson (a charmless Dominic Monaghan) is a psycho, or that it’s suspicious that the plant honcho is missing.

The real star of “Atomica” is the set, an abandoned missile silo both cavernous and creepy, but Merrill’s lackadaisical direction — marked by a pointlessly wandering camera — turns every scene into bad two-hander theater. Even a late-appearing Tom Sizemore, whose performing style could at best be called alternative energy, is kept from overheating things. “Atomica” has all the suspense of what its story essentially is: a maintenance check.




Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge at the Montalban


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