Movies

Nightflyers sci-fi horror is no Game of Thrones

You’re about to make first contact with aliens. Who do you send on this most momentous of missions? Humanity’s best and brightest, to shepherd us through an encounter that will change the cosmos? Or a bunch of violent misfits and weirdos who watched Event Horizon and thought, now that’s a great way to run a space programme?

Nightflyers is a new sci-fi horror series from SyFy based on a 1980 novella by George R.R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones. The iron throne casts a long shadow — can Martin’s back catalogue produce something as gripping as HBO’s fantasy smash hit?

You’re about to make first contact with aliens. Who do you send on this most momentous of missions? Humanity’s best and brightest, to shepherd us through an encounter that will change the cosmos? Or a bunch of violent misfits and weirdos who watched Event Horizon and thought, now that’s a great way to run a space programme?

Nightflyers is a new sci-fi horror series from SyFy based on a 1980 novella by George R.R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones. The iron throne casts a long shadow — can Martin’s back catalogue produce something as gripping as HBO’s fantasy smash hit?

There are some genuinely compelling scares. A remorseless spider-droid provides some nail-biting tension, and nightmarish visions evoke classic movies Don’t Look Now and Silent Running. But they’re mixed in with cheaper scares like a spooky-ooky child announcing “Your friends are going to die now.”

The show depicts an interesting vision of humanity fragmenting, with telepaths, clones and cyborgs all pointing in different directions for what it means to be human. By Episode 5 some of these disparate crew members team up to take the story in intriguing directions. But having watched the slow-burning first half of the season, it’s hard to shake the feeling the characters are stretched too thin for a 10 episode series.

Nightflyers begins on SyFy in the US on Sunday 2 December, with a new episode every night from Sunday to Thursday for two weeks, finishing up with Episode 10 on 13 December. It’ll also be on Netflix elsewhere around the world.

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