Ironically enough, the concept of space zombies is the least scary thing here...
For a Science Fiction Horror animation like Dead Space: Aftermath (2011), it is understandably received with a mixed reception for its disjointed cadaver of animation and plot.
To be clear, nothing is wrong with the latter. In fact, Dead Space: Aftermath’s plot provides a strong reason to actually watch the events that unfold in this tragedy of humanity. And, the audience would not need to look further than the characters Nickolas Kuttner, Alejandro Borges, Isabel Cho, and Nolan Stross. As four survivors of a ship called the O’Bannon, their individual interrogations unravel a story that slowly reveals the horror behind their mission. For them, the ship was sent to Aegis VII on a mission to stabilize the whole planet that was essentially a ticking time bomb. The whole thing is shady from the start, and only becomes alarming after Kuttner finds a small rock-like object that literally whispers ominously.
Turns out, the mission in Dead Space: Aftermath was a cover for the ship’s true purpose… to retrieve a fragment from an ancient artifact called “The Marker.” Aside from hallucinations that induce ‘homicidal outbursts’, and general insanity, the artifact proves to be deadly as it mutates dead bodies into bloodthirsty zombies called Necromorphs. Introducing casual body horror, psychological torture, visceral hallucinations, and painful deaths, these monsters seem to be the worst imaginable for an isolated space crew.
And yet, despite how brutally and rapidly they spread, the Necromorphs are only a disturbing addition to Dead Space: Aftermath. Set in the distant future of year 2509, the movie’s fictional world functions under a corrupt corporate government, EarthGov, and a sanctioned cult named the “Church of Unitology.” Together, they provide a Dystopian background that reveals, rather than causes, the moral deterioration that followed the mission’s aftermath. So, while these factors actually create a great atmosphere for a Horror movie, they don’t overshadow the unfortunate animation.
My initial impression of Dead Space: Aftermath’s animation was that it was an amateur class-project of an introductory course for 3D modeling theory. However, I later figured out that it was an intentional choice, especially as the animation changes to a specific 2D style that matches the perspective of each survivor. Even then, details can be inconsistent and quality can be nearly insulting for anyone who expects more for a movie of a pre-established Horror game franchise.
If the animation hadn’t immediately turned off viewers, the “niche appeal” that is often attributed to Dead Space: Aftermath acts as a divider for critical reception. In either perspective, I consider it a weird movie that straddled the line of quality, yet had success in narrative and decent handling of suspense. Oddly enough, the movie also succeeds more as a mental study of the survivors. This works with the minimal screen-time for carnage, brief scenes of nudity, and overall focus of the characters’ backgrounds, but I would think it fair to see the movie as a Psychological Horror than the Survival Horror that it could have inherited from the franchise it associated with. That said, I would recommend it for those who are willing to endure the aesthetic-desecration that is the 3D animation.
Check out the trailer for “Dead Space Aftermath!”