Another Plan from Outer Space (2018)

Despite the title which weirdly made me think this was an homage to “Plan 9,” Lance Polland’s science fiction thriller is quite an impressive survival film. Director Polland obviously has great affection for and knowledge of classic science fiction television, thus he creates an interesting character study that feels like a more sophisticated take on the original “Star Trek.” In many cases, so much of the scenes feel like something directly ripped out of “Star Trek” (and I mean that as a compliment).

In 2024, there are 521 colonists on Mars, and the crew of the space shuttle Genesis I has just dropped off the latest batch of said colonists and returned to Earth. Instead they encounter savage solar flares just before landing that instead cause them to crash. The five surviving crew members wake up in the middle of a desert with no idea of where they might be. Reduced to emergency supplies with little more than a canteen of water each and a couple of days’ worth of food, their situation is dire, especially since they can’t be sure anyone is looking for them, or if any searchers even know where to start looking.

Lance Polland directs and writes what feels like a mix of “The Twilight Zone” building on a narrative that introduces some pretty fascinating mythology. In fact, it almost feels like Polland’s own twist on “Five Strangers in Search of an Exit.” The black and white photography mixed with the pretty solid CGI prologue, gives the film a mystique that almost demands genre fans to see it through to the end. Polland’s film is deliberately paced and directed to create a sense that he’s leading us somewhere. With all great science fiction cinema there’s always that one turn of the screw, and Polland does not fail to deliver in that regard.

What we see mostly in “Another Plan” is the disintegration of a small group of space travelers that realize they’ll do basically anything to survive. The thirst for survival in such a harsh landscape devolves in to brutal violence and sad betrayals that manage to snuff out some interesting characters. The collective cast is all very good, with Polland assembling an impressive ensemble that includes Jessica Morris, Scott Sell, Augie Duke, Minchi Murakami, and Hans Hernke. They work beautifully off of each other and Polland gives them their own time to shine, which adds to the film’s rich experience. Everyone here is so fascinating and unique and offer strong cinematic turns that keep us wanting to learn more about them.

One caveat to “Another Plan…” is the final scene that book ends the whole shebang. Not only did it feel silly, but only robbed the climax of its mounting momentum and tension. I don’t know what’s planned, but I hope there’s a good pay off. That said, “Another Plan from Outer Space” is a great, thought provoking genre entry that, despite some flaws here and there, will definitely feed the appetites of sci-fi fans that love their brain food.