“Atomica” (2017): A Clumsy, Ordinary, Sci-Fi Snorefest

When the communications link to a remote energy reclamation facility breaks down in the film Atomica, a young repair tech named Abby (Sarah Habel) gets dropped off to fix the problem. It isn’t too long before she figures out that being able to call the office is the least of the worries of the two men stationed at the facility, a mad scientist named Dr. Zek (Tom Sizemore) and an even madder caretaker called Robinson (Dominic Monaghan).

Of course, in the time it takes you to read that opening paragraph, you will have not only figured out the “mystery” to Atomica, but will have plenty of time left over to ponder more important cinematic questions, like how Sizemore, a guy who hasn’t done anything memorable since the role of McKnight in Black Hawk Down 16 years ago, can get top billing if he’s only in the movie for about three minutes. Maybe it’s because when his character finally shows up in the last half hour of the movie, it makes Monaghan finally shut up.

Directed by Dagen Merrill (Murder in the Dark), Atomica depends on Habel and Monaghan creating an air of mystery between them concerning what has gone wrong with the facility’s communication system. There should be a lot of back-and-forth conversation, maybe some harmless flirting or edgy sexual tension to draw the audience in and make us care about what happens to them. Unfortunately, there is nothing even remotely interesting about either character: She barely talks and he never shuts up.

Never. If Monaghan’s contract pays him per word, he can retire on the nonsense he spews out in Atomica. It’s like he has actor’s Tourette’s Syndrome and can’t help himself. At first, it’s kind of funny to listen to him and try to figure out the clues to figure out what kind of crazy he is, but after about 20 minutes of his blathering it’s hard not to look at the screen and yell, “SHUT UP!”

And it doesn’t help that Habel barely says a word to the guy, even when she catches him blatantly leering at her in the shower. She doesn’t yell at him or hit him or even lecture him on the inappropriateness of his behavior. She doesn’t ever address it in any meaningful way. When he gets caught leering at her while she sunbathes (because lying down in a bikini to get a tan is so important when you’re trying to fix a communication system), she still stays quiet.

The threads of the Atomica mystery, for what it’s worth, are all clumsily tied together in the final few minutes of the film with absolutely no surprises big enough to make sitting through the first 70 minute of the movie worth it. The little teaser trailer they show halfway through the credits, hinting that there needs to be an Atomica 2, is insulting.

Atomica 0.1 out of 5 stars (0.1 / 5)

John Black
John Black still remembers his first horror movie, sneaking in to a double-feature of Horror House with Frankie Avalon and a Boris Karloff film he can’t remember the name of but will always remember for giving him his first glimpse of cinematic nudity as one of the actresses moved from the bed to the door without putting on any underwear! (Fond family memory: That glimpse, when discovered by his parents, cased John’s mom to call the theater and yelling at the manager for letting her son see ‘such filth’.) Luckily, John was more impressed by the blood and horror than the bare haunches and quickly became a devotee of the genre.

John has been a professional movie reviewer since 1987, when his first review – of a Robert De Niro film called Angel Heart – appeared in the entertainment section of The Cape Codder newspaper. He’s been writing about film ever since, primarily now as the entertainment editor at Boston Event Guide. Hardly a day goes by when he doesn’t watch at least one movie, which is how he thinks life was meant to be.