When I reviewed the animated feature Dead Space: Downfall, I started out with some math:
(cartoon + comic + video game) x (sci-fi + horror) = (Final Girl + Dead Space) / love
That formula has not changed a bit in the interim, so I suppose you could say that I was greatly looking forward to the sequel, Dead Space: Aftermath. I suppose you could also say that I should get a haircut and while that may, in fact, be true, it has little to do with the matters at hand so you should just mind your own beeswax! But I know you're right. I do need a haircut. Earlier today I found a split end that was split in a manner that defied the very laws of nature and physics and probably time! It looked not at all unlike this 1896 drawing of a Mantis Shrimp.
By the way, don't mess with the Mantis Shrimp! They will fuck you up.
Sorry, I'm a bit distracted this morning. Umm...Dead Space: Aftermath, yes! As Downfall bridged the gap between the 6-issue comic book miniseries and the Dead Space video game, so Aftermath bridges the gap between the game and its sequel, due to hit on January 25th. For those of you who aren't all ten kinds of Funk & Wagnalls about the Dead Space series, here's a quick rundown:
Downfall: On the planet Aegis VII, an ancient alien artifact is discovered and brought aboard the USG Ishimura. The artifact has hinky powers, though, and causes flip outs of the homicidal variety. Not only that, but it reanimates dead tissue, turning human corpses into necromorphs, hideously deformed monsters who kill kill kill! Shit gets FUBARed on the Ishimura very quickly.
Dead Space: The USG Kellion answers the Ishimura's distress call. Players control Isaac Clarke, the Kellion's engineer, as he tries to...well, survive against a space ship full of necromorphs. At the end of the game, Clarke's fate is unknown.
Aftermath: The USG Bannon has been sent to find out what the frig is going on since contact with the Kellion and Clarke have now been lost. Ship after ship after ship, I swear! As you might guess, things on the Bannon go straight to heck and only four people survive. During Aftermath, we hear their tales, piece together the story, and learn just how heck-y it all got. We also discover what happened to Isaac Clarke to some extent, and the film leads right into Dead Space 2.
PHEW, amiright? Yeah, there's a lot to the Dead Space mythology, for lack of a better word, and I haven't even touched on the religious aspects of it all. If you don't know anything about any of it, you might come into Aftermath and not know what's going on. Well, you might not be completely lost, but you might feel a little out of place. You don't want that, do you? I don't want that for you. I want you to feel loved and cherished and like you belong, so you can be all "necromorph this" and "plasma cutter that". It's because I care!
Whether or not you're a Dead head, Aftermath is a good time. There's not a lot of character depth- we learn just the tiniest bit about the four survivors and their families (for example, one crew member sees the ghost of his dead daughter beckoning him as the artifact messes with his mind), but essentially they only tell the story of the massacre on the Bannon. That's fine by me, as it's an entertaining story...and as the math has proven, I'm a sucker for horror in space.
And this is definitely horror! It may not be quite as gory as Downfall, but the blood certainly flies and there's plenty of violence to be found. If that wasn't a big enough indicator, then all the swearing will let you know that Aftermath is decidedly not for the kiddies. That's right, I said swearing. This movie pulls out all the stops!
Each segment relating a survivor's tale has a different director and therefore a different art style. While they're all anime-esque, there are enough variations that you may end up needing a moment to sort out the characters- a thin, dweeby egghead scientist may appear all jacked up and ready to go on a 'roid rage in the next story. What's more off-putting, however, is the animation in the framing narrative- I don't know who decided cartoonish CGI was a good idea, but I wish they'd reconsidered and gone the traditional animation route for the entire film. Sometimes the CGI is alright; armor and guns, for example, come off looking cel-shaded and pretty cool. At other times, though, this shit looks like a commercial for The General auto insurance. It's an odd choice and I can't say I liked it, but I could deal with it (cue heavy, martyr-ish sigh).
I really like the Dead Space universe, and I dig that the world I discovered in the game is branching out into other media- I do so enjoy a property I can sink my teeth into. I'm a fan of animation and space-based horror, so as far as I'm concerned, these movies can keep on comin'. But then, what do I know? I mean, look at the state of my hair.