“Our world is dying,” says astrophysicist Karl D’Branin (Eoin Macken), the leader of an interstellar expedition in Syfy’s new drama, Nightflyers. “But maybe we can save our families.” This is how the first trailer for the television adaptation of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s novella of the same name begins. If you’re thinking that Nightflyers is going to be a typical world-ending science fictions story, however, you’re wrong. It’s quite the opposite.
It’s the year 2093 and, as D’Branin stressed to his crew, the earth doesn’t have that much life left in it. So he sets off on a long journey into deep space with a diverse group of scientists in order to make first contact with alien life, in the hopes that who or whatever they come across might hold the key to humanity’s survival. To do this, they board a ship called the Nightflyer, but soon after they depart earth’s atmosphere, everything begins to fall apart. The ship malfunctions constantly, crew members are repeatedly attacked or killed by unseen forces, and everyone begins to suspect that someone - or something - else is with them.
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Along with Macken’s D’Branin, Nightflyers features a massive international cast of performers. Among the other Nightflyer crewmembers are Melantha Jhirl (Jodie Turner-Smith), Dr. Agatha Matheson (Gretchen Mol), Captain Roy Eris (David Ajala), xenobiologist Rowan (Angus Sampson), Thale (Sam Strike), cyberneticist Lommie (Maya Eshet), chief engineer Auggie (Brían F. O’Byrne), Murphy (Phillip Rhys) and Tobis (Gwynne McElveen). Altogether, the “Nightflyers” cast consists of players from the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Israel.
Despite boasting such a large cast, however, Jeff Buhler’s 10-episode adaptation is by no means a repeat of HBO’s take on Martin’s Game of Thrones book series, which has also included an enormous group of actors. It’s more a mix of hard sci-fi and horror, the latter of which is itself a combination of jump scares and occasionally dull psychological beats. So if the 1997 sci-fi/horror film Event Horizon had been made into a television series instead, it would have been something like Nightflyers.
So if typical end-of-the-world scenarios mixed with sci-fi horror are in your wheelhouse, then Nightflyers is the right show for you. If you’re expecting a fast-paced thriller, however, then you may want to look elsewhere, as the series moves nowhere even close to lightspeed.
Nightflyers release date
The Nightflyers premiere is set for Sunday, Dec. 2, at 10 p.m. on Syfy.