Jeff Buhler's 'Nightflyers' draws from many sci-fi classics, though based on George R R Martin's novella
Buhler's representation of Martin's space adventure story holds resemblances with 'Aliens', '2001: A Space Odyssey', 'The Shining', 'Solaris', and 'Event Horizon' among others
There's no one way to talk about the space and its millions of infinities, and more importantly the horrors of it. But if we were to talk about the way George R R Martin wrote about the adventures, horrors and all the underlying mysteries of space, a good way would be Jeff Buhler's version of the author's 80's novella, 'Nightflyers.'
Buhler brought out a wonderful representation of Martin's story about the Thousand Worlds in the form of a SyFy series that's currently airing, but as much as I would like to think of it as the solely Buhler way, a closer look at the way the story has panned out, with its horrors, both physical and psychological, it seems to have drawn influences from other stellar alien horror and space adventure masterpieces. Several, different ones of them, in fact.
To start off, Buhler's depiction of 'Nightflyers' inevitably brings back memories of the Stanley Kubrick classic, '2001: A Space Odyssey.' This is primarily because of the zero-gravity jogging track that we see in the current TV show based on Martin's book - something that brings back the exactly similar, circular one from Kubrick's film.
There's also the very distinct artificial intelligence infused computer with glowing red eyes in 'Nightflyers' like the cult-level popular Kubrick movie. What more? Much like the film 'Solaris,' the entire titular spaceship in the new show is seemingly haunted with its crew members even experiencing 'visions' that can be regarded as hallucinations.
The second most pivotal resemblance will be spotted by fans of other slasher horrors, like Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' and once again, Kubrick's film 'The Shining' which was based on the novel by Stephen King.
These similarities are in the form of axe-murderers and other slasher homicidal maniacs that have somehow reigned the slasher-horror genre for ages now. In 'Nightflyers' we see similar sights in the form of crew member Rowan (Angus Sampson) who was established to be one of the horrors within the spaceship in the shockingly gory cold open of the pilot itself.
But the aforementioned 'Solaris'-esque eeriness of hearing disembodied voices and bizarre hallucinations that are borderline nightmarish, including hallucinations of past traumas that have made their way into the 2018 series, also holds resemblances from 'The Shining.'
Especially if one were to analyze the whole taking up the mission just to deal with past traumas perspective, it has been played out in several other different films from the past as well, like 'Aliens' and 'Event Horizon.'
We have already discussed how the element of gore in the pilot's cold open holds major resemblances with Martin's other brainchild, 'Game of Thrones'. And, we have also established that the whole chase between the axe-wielding maniac Rowan, and fellow crew member Agatha Matheson (Gretchen Mol), is strikingly similar to the first 'Jurassic Park' film where the two preteens hide from the velociraptors under kitchen cabinets.
But one of the most unexpected influences that viewers will find in the 'Nightflyers' series is with a film from a polar opposite genre. There's a character in the new show that is in the processes of deleting painful memories of her daughter - which viewers find out as she confesses it to her husband. Their child is no more and she believes deleting memories of their honeymoon would help cope with the loss as they had visited the place several times with their now deceased child.
This brings back memories of one of the most talked about indie films of our times, 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', where heartbroken lovers and people trying to cope with loss could opt for a medical procedure that would erase their memories sectionally.
And above all these, is the basic plot of 'Nightflyers', which in itself is reminiscent of the recently popular anthology series 'Black Mirror.' Viewers will know that the spaceship is sent to outer space, seeking help from aliens and other extraterrestrial life because life on planet Earth is slowly proceeding towards a total wipeout.
And, it is this stark ambition of humans to engage in technology in the hopes of enslaving science to suit their pursuits and then falling prey to its capabilities and strengths that is the whole concept 'Black Mirror' revolves around.
So, 'Nightflyers' might not be Martin's story told in an exclusively Buhler way, but the resemblances and similarities between the ongoing series and the classics of the past are panned out in sort of a homage to all space adventure and sci-fi, or psychological thriller classics.
True, the story is set in the year 2093, but it sure does bring back a lot of memories and influences from the past, for a story set in the Earth's future. And, that only helps the show be such a stellar representation of the stories told in Martin's Thousand Worlds, especially if compared to the cheesy film adaptation of the same which came out in 1987.