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Spectral (Title Card).jpg
Directed by Nic Mathieu
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Music by Junkie XL[1]
Cinematography Bojan Bazelli
Edited by Jason Ballantine
Distributed by Netflix
Release date
  • December 9, 2016 (2016-12-09) (worldwide)
Running time
107 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English

Spectral is an American military science fiction film directed by Nic Mathieu. The screenplay was written by Ian Fried, Nic Mathieu and George Nolfi from a screen story by Fried. The film stars James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Emily Mortimer, and Bruce Greenwood. The film was released on December 9, 2016 on Netflix.[3]


DARPA researcher Dr. Mark Clyne is flown to Moldova, where the US military is currently deployed in the ongoing Moldovan War, as his expertise is required regarding a line of hyperspectral imaging goggles of his design that have been issued to troops there. After arriving at a US Military Air Base on the outskirts of Chișinău, he meets with General Orland and CIA officer Fran Madison. He is shown footage captured by the troops' goggles of a mysterious, translucent, humanoid apparition that kills almost instantly. Knowing it is not interference, Orland wants Clyne's expert opinion before forwarding the findings and footage to his superiors. Conversely, Madison believes the sightings to be members of the insurgency wearing an advanced form of active camouflage and has orders from her superiors to retrieve a sample.

To get a clearer shot of the anomalies and identify them, both Clyne and Madison are sent into the field with a team of Delta Force operators, who are being sent to find Utah team, who went missing the day before. To capture a better image of the apparitions, Clyne mounts a large version of the hyper spectral camera onto one of the armoured personnel carriers. Upon arriving at the location and discovering all of Utah team has been killed, they are ambushed by the apparitions, who, being impervious to small arms fire and explosives, inflict heavy casualties before the soldiers retreat. When their vehicles are rendered inoperable by landmines, the group takes cover in an abandoned factory, where they find two children barricaded. The apparitions attempt to follow them but are stopped by a barrier of iron shavings. The children share that their father scattered the shavings to protect his children before he was killed. The survivors make contact with the air base and a rendezvous is set up. Clyne modifies the hyper spectral camera, turning it into a large searchlight, which enables the group to see the apparitions without the need for goggles. Later, he supplies the unit with IEDs laced with iron shavings. Fortified with these new weapons, the group sets out for the rendezvous point, about a half-mile away from the factory.

After exiting the factory, the group is chased by apparitions, who are slowed but not destroyed by the iron explosives. The group is met by reinforcements and a helicopter evac at a large abandoned plaza. However, they are ambushed by the apparitions and are barely able to escape as the figures proceed to destroy the tanks and kill the soldiers sent as backup. In the air, they receive word from Orland the apparitions have overrun the Air Base, so they are redirected to a civilian bunker controlled by the allied Moldovan military. Clyne theorises the apparitions are likely man-made and are made of Bose-Einstein condensate, which explains their ability to move through walls, freeze people to death, and why they are halted by iron shavings and ceramic materials (hence their inability to enter tanks). Working overnight with Orland and surviving military engineers, he constructs several makeshift pulse weapons capable of breaking down the condensate. The next morning, the remaining American soldiers are armed with the weapons and sent to a power plant in the center of the city, as Clyne believes it is the only facility capable of generating the power needed to create the condensate.

While the soldiers mount an offensive on the roof of the plant, Clyne and Madison discover a recently abandoned laboratory inside. They deduce that scientists, working in weapons research for the former regime, were scanning humans on a molecular level and utilising advanced 3D printing to replicate them in condensate form. The human test subjects' brains and central nervous systems were then removed and hooked up to a central machine which keeps the condensate copies (or "apparitions") alive. Before the apparitions emerge victorious in their battle with the soldiers, Clyne activates a failsafe system, which deactivates the condensate apparitions. Believing that whatever level of consciousness remaining is in pain, he unplugs the human remains from the machine, finally giving them peace.

With the apparitions gone, the US and Allied Moldovan military work to continue to take control of the city from the insurgents, and a Department of Defense extraction team is to be sent back to the plant with the Delta Force operators to take the machinery apart and potentially utilise it for their own purposes. Saying goodbye to Madison and General Orland, Clyne boards an aircraft to be taken back home to Virginia.



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.[4][5][6][7]

Film production[edit]

Film production began on August 7, 2014.[8] 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. Filming was completed in August 2015. Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop produced the futuristic weapons and the special effects for the movie.[3] 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.[9]


Initially, Universal Pictures was going to distribute the film, setting an August 12, 2016 release date for the film.[10] In June 2016, the film was pulled from the schedule.[11] Netflix later acquired distribution rights to the film and released the film worldwide on December 9, 2016.[12][13][14]

Critical reception[edit]

Spectral received mixed reviews from film critics. It holds a 55% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 5 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.5/10.[15]


  1. ^ "Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) Scoring ‘Spectral’". Film Music Reporter. 23 March 2016. 
  2. ^ "SPECTRAL | British Board of Film Classification". www.bbfc.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Fleming Jr, Mike. "Netflix Lands Legendary Sci-Fi Action Film ‘Spectral’". Deadline. Retrieved 17 November 2016. 
  4. ^ "James Badge Dale In Talks To Topline ‘Spectral’". deadline.com. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Max Martini Joins Legendary’s ‘Spectral’ Thriller". deadline.com. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  6. ^ "Bruce Greenwood Joins James Badge Dale in Legendary's 'Spectral'". deadline.com. 18 June 2014. 
  7. ^ "Emily Mortimer in Talks to Star in Legendary's 'Spectral'". hollywoodreporter.com. 7 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "ON THE SET FOR 8/11/14: ‘JURASSIC WORLD’ WRAPS, ‘THE LAST FACE’ STARTS". studiosystemnews.com. August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Trailer for Spectral". Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  10. ^ Deadline Team, The (December 19, 2014). "Universal & Legendary Date ‘Krampus,’ ‘Spectral’; Open Road Shifts ‘Nightcrawler’". Deadline.com. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 
  11. ^ McClintock, Pamela (June 14, 2016). "Legendary, Universal Pull 'Spectral' From August Release Calendar". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Spectral | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix". Youtube. Netflix. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "Spectral Trailer - Watch at ComingSoon.net". ComingSoon.net. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 
  14. ^ "Netflix's 'Spectral' Trailer Pits the Military Against Spooks! - Bloody Disgusting!". Bloody Disgusting!. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 
  15. ^ "Spectral (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 29, 2017. 

External links[edit]