From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Title card and logo of Spectral
Title card and logo of Spectral
Directed byNic Mathieu
Screenplay byGeorge Nolfi
Story by
  • Ian Fried
  • Nic Mathieu
Produced by
CinematographyBojan Bazelli
Edited byJason Ballantine
Music byJunkie XL[1]
Legendary Pictures
Universal Pictures
Mid Atlantic Films
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • December 9, 2016 (2016-12-09) (Worldwide)
Running time
107 minutes[2]
  • United States
  • Hungary
  • English
  • Russian
  • Romanian
  • Slovenian
Budget$70 million (estimated)[3]

Spectral is a 2016 Hungarian-American military science fiction action film co-written and directed by Nic Mathieu. Written with Ian Fried & George Nolfi, the film stars James Badge Dale as DARPA research scientist Mark Clyne, with Max Martini, Emily Mortimer, Clayne Crawford, and Bruce Greenwood in supporting roles.

The film is set in a civil war-ridden Moldova as invisible entities slaughter any living being caught on their path. The film was released worldwide on December 9, 2016 on Netflix.[4] On February 1, 2017, Netflix released a prequel graphic novel of the film called Spectral: Ghosts of War which was made available digitally through the website ComiXology.[5][6]


DARPA researcher Mark Clyne is sent to a US military airbase on the outskirts of Chișinău, to consult his creations; a line of hyperspectral imaging goggles issued to US Army Special Forces led by Army General James Orland, who is covertly supporting the Moldovan government in an ongoing civil war against insurgents of the former regime, and to investigate the death of Delta Force Sergeant Davis, whose hyperspectral goggles, including those from several operators, captured an unknown entity that kills almost instantaneously. The signal intelligence ops wrote it off as interference, but Clyne believes the sightings to be legitimate; conversely, CIA Case Officer Fran Madison believes the sightings to be members of the local insurgency wearing an advanced form of active camouflage and has orders from her superiors to retrieve any sample of their cloaking technology.

Orland assigns both Clyne and Madison to a team of Delta Force operators led by Major Sessions, on an extraction mission to locate their missing Utah team at Durletsi, where they discover Comstock, one of the few survivors of the Utah team. The operators then come under brutal attack by the invisible entities, who are impervious to small arms fire and explosives. The operators escape, but their carriers are flipped over by a landmine, killing Comstock and leaving them stranded.

The group takes shelter in an abandoned factory inhabited by another surviving Utah team member, Chen, and two Moldovan siblings; Sari and Bogdan, whose late father had planted iron filings around it to protect them from the entities, known locally as "Aratare". The team establish radio contact with the airbase and set up a rendezvous for extraction. However, they are forced to evacuate the factory on foot as entities bypass the filings and surround the area. Using their newly constructed IED's and grenades laced with iron filings, the group race for the abandoned plaza for an alternate extraction point. They reach the landing zone and barely manage to escape, but many soldiers sent to cover the landing zone are killed, along with Sari's brother, Bogdan.

The Delta Force group are redirected to a Moldovan-controlled civilian bunker as their airbase is overrun by the entities. Using information gathered from Sari, Clyne deduces the apparitions are likely made out of Bose-Einstein condensate, and are incapable of passing through iron shavings and ceramic materials, which is how Comstock was able to survive, and that the entities cannot penetrate through ceramic tank armor plating. Working overnight with Orland and the surviving military engineers, he constructs ceramic armored suits and makeshift pulse weapons capable of breaking down the condensate entities. The next morning, the remaining Delta operators leave the bunker for the Masrov power plant, which Clyne believes can generate enough power for the condensate to work, and where the attacks from the entities first started.

While the soldiers mount an offensive distraction on the roof of the plant, Clyne and Madison descend into a laboratory under the plant, where they discovered that scientists working for the former regime had mass-produced the condensate entities as molecular copies of human test subjects' remains, whose peripheral nervous systems were hooked up to a central machine that keeps the functioning condensate copies alive. The entities escaped when the facility was damaged during the civil war, which led to the current situation. With the battle above threatening to release the remaining condensates, Clyne manages to activate the failsafe system, which deactivates the condensate. He also unplugs the human remains from the machine, finally giving them peace.

With the apparitions gone, the US and allied Moldovan military continue their work of taking control of the city from the insurgents while the Department of Defense considers reverse engineering the condensate machine for their wartime purposes. Clyne bids goodbye to Orland, Sari, and Madison, as he is airlifted back home.



During the summer of 2014, Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures announced that commercials director Nic Mathieu would make his feature debut directing Fried's screenplay for the supernatural action film Spectral which would star James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Bruce Greenwood and Emily Mortimer. Described as a supernatural Black Hawk Down, Spectral centers on a special-ops team dispatched to fight supernatural beings who have taken over a European city.[7][8][9][10]

Ian Fried wrote the original script, which was re-written by Mathieu, Jamie Moss, John Gatins and George Nolfi, who received sole screenwriting credit, with Mathieu and Fried receiving story credit.[11]

Principal photography[edit]

Principal photography began on August 7, 2014.[12] Shooting started on August 28, 2014 in various streets and buildings in Budapest, Hungary, relying extensively on practical effects and locations for an authentic, gritty atmosphere. Locations included Buda Castle, which served as the location of the landing zone scene, and Gellért Hill.[13] Filming was completed in August 2015. Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop produced the futuristic weapons and Weta Digital created the visual effects for the film.[4] Universal Pictures anticipated a release in August 2016 but decided against this and transferred the rights to Netflix which released it on December 9, 2016.[14]


Initially, Universal Pictures was going to distribute the film, setting an August 12, 2016 release date for the film.[15] In June 2016, the film was pulled from the schedule.[16] Netflix later acquired distribution rights to the film and released the film worldwide on December 9, 2016.[17][18][19]

On February 1, 2017, Netflix released a prequel comic of the movie called Spectral: Ghosts of War made available digitally through the website ComiXology.[5][6]

Critical reception[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 78% based on 9 reviews, with an average rating of 5.70/10.[20]

Writing for The Verge, Tasha Robinson summarises "It’s understandable that Netflix jumped at the chance to grab what was intended as a big-screen, large-scale thriller. But Spectral winds up feeling like a much smaller film, like something that was intended for a casual streaming experience all along."[21]


  1. ^ "Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) Scoring 'Spectral'". Film Music Reporter. 23 March 2016.
  2. ^ "SPECTRAL". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Spectral". IMDb. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (17 November 2016). "Netflix Lands Legendary Sci-Fi Action Film 'Spectral'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Netflix's Spectral Gets a Prequel Comic".
  6. ^ a b "Spectral: Ghosts Of War". comixology. Archived from the original on February 10, 2017.
  7. ^ "James Badge Dale In Talks To Topline 'Spectral'". Deadline Hollywood. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Max Martini Joins Legendary's 'Spectral' Thriller". Deadline Hollywood. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  9. ^ "Bruce Greenwood Joins James Badge Dale in Legendary's 'Spectral'". Deadline Hollywood. 18 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Emily Mortimer in Talks to Star in Legendary's 'Spectral'". The Hollywood Reporter. 7 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  11. ^ James Badge Dale to feature in 'Spectral' IANS English; New Delhi 20 Feb 2014.
  12. ^ "ON THE SET FOR 8/11/14: 'JURASSIC WORLD' WRAPS, 'THE LAST FACE' STARTS". studiosystemnews.com. August 11, 2014. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  13. ^ "Budapest demolished in new Netflix sci-fi film". Daily News Hungary. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Trailer for Spectral". Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  15. ^ Deadline Team, The (December 19, 2014). "Universal & Legendary Date 'Krampus,' 'Spectral'; Open Road Shifts 'Nightcrawler'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  16. ^ McClintock, Pamela (June 14, 2016). "Legendary, Universal Pull 'Spectral' From August Release Calendar". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  17. ^ "Spectral | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix". Youtube. Netflix. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Spectral Trailer - Watch at ComingSoon.net". ComingSoon.net. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Netflix's 'Spectral' Trailer Pits the Military Against Spooks! - Bloody Disgusting!". Bloody Disgusting!. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  20. ^ "Spectral (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  21. ^ "Spectral review: Netflix's new movie is Gears of War meets Aliens, on the cheap". The Verge. 9 December 2016. Retrieved January 14, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]