My cousin brought this movie over to watch during one vacation, and I had no idea what to expect. A group of astronauts and a scientist explore an abandoned spaceship, and strange things start to happen...
I have to admit, some of the special effects and acting did not impress us. I distinctly remember the three of us laughing out loud at an early scene where it was supposed to look like the ship got hit and everyone was shaking in their seats from the impact. But even with some unintentional corniness, I was able to enjoy the story itself.
Basically, the spaceship is, or may be, sentient, having somehow developed a mind of its own, and messing with its inhabitants by showing them things from their past that scare them. Other times, it seems to possess people, and turn them against others. I realize this type of plot has been done before, but I personally had never seen a story that did it, and it had also never been done in an outer space setting before. Space is creepy in its own way. A house or even mansion may feel familiar, but a spaceship is something foreign to us. It doesn't feel like home, and the setting is cold, repelling, and intimidating. Throw in strange, unexplained events and a lot of disasters, and you have one unsettling atmosphere.
Then there's the character interactions. Not that this is what you would call a "character-driven" story, but when you have people being jerked around and manipulated by a supernaturally-intelligent spaceship, these people and their struggles need to be interesting. The crew here has enough personality to satisfy, and with the scientist's motives for bringing them to this place being rather questionable, it's hard to blame some of the crew members for flying off the handle at him. Tension is an important part of horror, and character-based tension handles that job well.
The reason for all the supernatural occurrences is left ambiguously explained, which I feel is for the best. No explanation could probably suffice for something like this, and any detailed one would likely come across as ridiculous. By leaving it open to the imagination and making you wonder, the movie manages to maintain its ability to be unsettling. Sometimes less is more, and I wish more storytellers would realize that.