"Dead Space: Downfall" is an animated film that serves as a prequel to the outstanding science-fiction survival horror video game, Dead Space. The story draws heavily upon previous masterpieces of film and game alike which most prominently include Aliens, Resident Evil (the games), 28 Days/Weeks Later and Halo. It makes for an entertaining stand-alone popcorn flick to people unfamiliar with the game and fleshes out the story for fans of the game somewhat by showing the events leading up to the nerve-wracking experience of the game in greater detail.
Whether or not you play video games, if you love animated violence then this is as brutal as it gets. The story involves a mining vessel sent by the fanatical Church of Unitology (Unitarian Scientologists?) to retrieve an artifact on a dead planet. The mining vessels subsist by "cracking" planets and selling the ore. Some say this is detrimental to the harmony of the Universe. I'd say that in this case, that's an understatement. The vessel unwittingly unleashes an alien race -named as "Necromorphs" in the game- that thrive on dead flesh; possessing, reanimating, molding, and mutating it into forms suitable for slaying even more living things to continually spread the race. The result is damn horrific by any standard. To make things worse something is affecting the minds of the crew and driving them mad, making them both eager to die and kill for the aliens. Mix this with an already fanatical religious sect and you've got trouble.
So other than a typical sci-fi alien/zombie invasion romp, some of the usual "organized religion will kill us all" gloom and doom, and a little extra story for gamers what does "Downfall" offer? Violence. Brutal, inhuman, senseless, bloody, evil, unrelenting, unflinching violence. Decapitation, dismemberment, jaws ripped off, folks sawed in half (both horizontally and vertically), eyeball socket abuse, gaping neck wounds, viscera aplenty, and a freakin' mutated dead baby biting a dude in the face. Now that is some hardcore sh!+. The inside of the ship is practically painted in blood, and there's even a bit o' animated full frontal male nudity if that sort of thing piques your interest. So yeah, you may want to send the kids into the next room for this one. The violence in this is awesome. Also be prepared for almost comically excessive profanity.
So with all the attention showered on the putrid piles of dung that are what usually passes for video game adaptations, why has nobody heard of this? The likes of Uwe Boll and Paul Anderson get notoriety and praise (respectively) for ruining unruinable concepts and franchises while a solid flick like this gets shoved to the back of the shelf? Double-you. Tea. Eff. To be fair, "Downfall" isn't exactly all it could have been either. The video game not only looks better visually, but is far more fleshed out storywise. This film does very little to offer insight into the Necromorphs and few varieties even make appearances. I was hoping for a lot more. Practically none of the game's weapons are present either which is odd considering how cool they are and that the game takes place on the exact same ship which has no shortage of said weapons. At least one character does manage to make their way to the video game, which picks up at the last scene of "Downfall".
Gorehounds, adult animation fanatics, sci-fi horror buffs, and video game aficionados are all going to want to see this. It doesn't offer much more than brutal death, but it offers a whole lot of that. I wish it had been done in CG to retain more of the game's amazing look and feel and that the story had encompassed more... well, story but this is definitely an entertaining hour and fifteen minutes. The special features are sparse. Hopefully more video game adaptations will stick to the animated format which has produced solid if not exceptional films like Street Fighter (compare that to the laughable live-action version) and Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children. My fingers are crossed for the upcoming CG flick Resident Evil: Degeneration.
3 1/2 stars, rounded up for being BRUTAL!