‘Nightflyers’ Takes George R. R. Martin’s Murder Happy Brand to Space

No one can hear you scream in space, but your neighbors will hear you scream in your living room. The ‘Nightflyers’ trailer promises gore and fear.
By  · Published on March 21st, 2018

No one can hear you scream in space, but your neighbors will hear you scream in your living room. The Nightflyers trailer promises gore and fear.

A young up and comer by the name of George R. R. Martin has a new project called Nightflyers headed to Syfy in the fall. He calls it “a haunted house story on a starship.” You might have heard of his previous work, Game of Thrones. I kid.

Obviously, Martin has  achieved household recognition via the outstanding HBO series he’s created based on his novels. You know him for his total willingness to murder every character you love. He’ll use dragons, treachery, molten gold, poison, five-foot broad swords wielded by real-life giants, or just a straight-up old-fashioned celebratory massacre. However, he doesn’t only tell fantasy and magic stories. He’s got some science fiction and horror goodies in his bag of tricks as well.

The real question is, will his murder-happy brand of fiction find success when he takes it to space? Syfy dropped the first trailer for Nightflyers, and it looks pretty damn promising. Check it out:

Hell, yes. When Martin calls the project “Psycho in space,” it is like he is speaking to what we all want out of a good sci-fi horror flick. We’ve got gore, visions of terror, and dire warnings from space. Don’t come here, says the woman covered in what appears to be bits of flesh. Yes, please.

Netflix, who’s partnered with Syfy for international distribution rights, recently went all-in on a similar project with the latest Cloverfield filmThe Cloverfield Paradox has the same set up of a crew trapped in space. It wasn’t universally well received.

There’s definitely an audience for this niche genre. While Martin presents it as Psycho in space, the trailer exudes the chills and thrills of an Event Horizon riff. Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1997 film set the standard for haunted house stories in space. So, that’s no surprise. It doesn’t really get any creepier in space than Sam Neill’s Dr. Weir explaining “where we’re going, we don’t need eyes.”

However, Syfy is a bit more limited in terms of the gratuitous violence the GoT team is able to relish so much on HBO. Still, that isn’t really the draw to Martin’s work. Game of Thrones is a remarkably well-crafted story capable of enthralling the general public in its swords and sorcerers and dragons. The show single-handedly shifted popular opinion about the genre. That’s no small feat of storytelling.

Unlike so many other shows, the characters in GoT are always in real peril. Every battle or scheme is important because the consequences are both real and permanent. Martin is all killer and no filler.

That’s the magic of George R. R. Martin. His stories grab you and don’t let go.

That said, episodic stories fraught with death while isolated in the terrifying emptiness of space holds a bit more challenge. The story features eight scientists and a telepath on a journey to the edge of the solar system, aboard the titular Nightflyer, in the hopes of meeting alien life.  And obviously, there is a stowaway because there’s always a stowaway.  Naturally, some terrifying horror unfolds along the way. With nine (maybe 10) characters on a quest to meet alien life spread over ten episodes, I suppose you could have a death an episode.

Jeff Buhler wrote the pilot for Nightflyers and is now on board as showrunner. He previously wrote the screenplay for The Midnight Meat Train which starred Vinnie Jones and Bradley Cooper. It was about a photographer who was lured by the thrill of the pursuit of a serial killer who preys upon late night commuters. It features tense moments and some gnarly bits of violence. While it isn’t the same as space insanity and telepaths, it seems to fit the spirit of his latest project.

Syfy has partnered with funding from the Irish Film Board and Netflix. It’s clear from the trailer that the team has put their budget to most excellent use. The massive sets and high-quality look of the footage make for a promising ten-episode run. Hopefully, we get ten hours of dread-filled space-horror out of Nightflyers.

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Writer for Film School Rejects. He currently lives in Virginia, where he is very proud of his three kids, wife, and projector. Co-Dork on the In The Mouth of Dorkness podcast.