Though Spectral was released on December 9th, it was not until January 1 of this new year that I decided to give it a watch. It had been popping up in my Facebook feed intermittently as something people were watching, but I assumed from the name that I knew exactly what was happening.
I was wrong.
I started out watching the flick on my laptop, until my husband started doing that thing where you lean in and start watching over someone’s shoulder. I quickly took the movie to the television and we spent an enjoyable 107 minutes watching the war/sci-fi/horror movie about Dr. Mark Clyne (James Badge Dale), a scientist who is summoned to Moldova to troubleshoot goggle technology he created for the war being fought. Soldiers are seeing disturbances through the goggles and then being killed via the “disturbance” flying through them, freezing their organs and killing them instantly. CIA officer Fran Madison (Emily Mortimer) thinks the disturbances are cloaking devices, which, how? The soldiers aren’t sure what’s happening and Dr. Clyne decides to find out what’s really going on.
I may have assumed ghosts was the answer, but I never could have dreamed up the actual reveal of the entities and their origin. Well-played, if poorly executed.
However, Spectral sticks to the lessons of previous movies where it is the military against an unknown, possibly alien or supernatural foe. You have groups of soldiers learning to listen to an outsider (Clyne) and coming together in order to destroy the things threatening their lives. You’ve got montages of weapons being made and preparation taking place. There are some satisfying ideas in Spectral, but nothing ground-breaking. I think that’s why it feels so at home as a Netflix release and not theatrical, where it would have been ignored. Instead of going for huge stars, awkward and unneeded backstories, and bloat, Spectral manages to pack in just what a viewer needs to enjoy the plot and journey placed before them. Nothing more, nothing less. In a sea of expensive garbage and remakes, that means a lot.