B-Movie Inspirations: Enigma (2009)

B-Movie Inspirations: Enigma (2009)

B-Movie Inspirations is a series of articles I write where I watch really bad movies and draw RPG inspiration from them.

“Floating dead in space, transport ship Genesis has become an unsolvable mystery. The crew are all dead. But how, and why? What began as a simple transport mission ends with bloodshed and the disastrous escape of a VIP prisoner.”


This is a very low budget movie that apparently saw the film festival circuit and ended up on Hulu or Tubi, I forget which one I found it on. Sometimes these movies are just stupid idea poorly executed while others are really interesting. This one was a little of both but had some inspiring ideas.

There is some interesting world building. Set in a future where humanity has reached out into the stars, Earth is at war with a nasty elf-like races called the Cnidarians. You get the sense that things are pretty dire and that these aliens are pretty tough. The human military is separately seeking ways to defeat this threat.

Told mostly in flash back, there is an investigation into the loss of a crew on a routine transport mission of a ship called the Genesis. Charged with transporting something very important to the military, the trip ends with not only their death, but the loss of an important military asset. The investigation briefing slowly dissolves into a flashback where we meet the crew of the Genesis and learn of their mission.

It is a small crew of Cpt. Nathaniel J. Rhys, First officer Kyleigh Rothman and Engineer Charles Wyeth. Also included is a little CGI’ed alien pet Phobos that Rothman was given by her uncle, who happens to be the ranking investigating officer in the briefing. The Genesis is also introduced to us as a old and dilapidated transport and this new job will get them back in the green and get the ship it’s well-deserved overhaul.

Their new job involved a prisoner of war. They glaze over some of the backstory but according to the IMDB summary …

After a bloody assault on a military ship, the Vendetta, USSM special forces were able to capture their first Cnidarian prisoner, code named 71099. But commonly known through out the fleet as Ediolon, the phantom. Realizing that a military transport would be too obvious of a target to their enemy, the USSM enlisted the freelance ship Genesis to secretly transport the prisoner to the high security prison located on Mars’ moon Deimos.

The Genesis docks at a space station and the prisoner transfer tables place. They give away the alien look with the movie poster, but they look like a cross between Babylon 5‘s Minbari and the Wraith from Stargate: Atlantis. She is escorted by two burly marines with big guns.

This sets up an interesting ensemble that could have been interesting but because this is a relatively short and simply movie, they really do not take full advantage of it, That is not to say that an RPG adventure can’t take full advantage of it.

As the crew settles in for a 25 day trip to Deimos, things begin to get strange. First the engineer walks into the brig where the prisoner and two grunts are and sets off a bomb, presumably killing them all. You get a sense that there is something wring with hi as he walks in – perhaps psychically controlled the alien or something. However, we learn despite holding the bomb in his hand and the SFX scene showing the section of the ship open to space in flames, the engineer survived intact and the Marines only lay in a mildly damaged room as if just knocked out. What you are to gather is that the explosion was somewhere else set off by remote and the alien killed all three once released.

With the alien warrior now on the loose, the remaining crew hunt it down armed with the dead marines assault rifles. There are tense moments as they do this and eventually they confront the Cnidarians in multiple situations. Eventually Kyleigh ends up in hand to hand with the escape prisoner however she is no match. As she dies in the clutches of the alien, we shift to the captain on the bridge. He is scrambling for something to save them only to turn as the door opens and Kyleigh (who we thought was dead) lower a gun at the captain and shoot him. You can also see the alien prisoner dead on the ground.

However, the big twist is what makes this movie interesting. We see it as we return to the General who is now on the Genesis with a little box that we see is for the purposes of collecting Phobos. We then return to flashback in the form of security footage that only the General apparently can see, showing that after kill Kyleigh, the alien is sudden possessed by something and dies. Kyleigh reanimates and then kills the captain. As Kyleigh is still standing there with silvery eyes, her eye color fades to the original color and the alien creature Phobos slowing emerges from here neck as if it phased inside her to possess her. You are given the impression that the creature killed the alien prisoner, Ediolon just by possessing it.

We shift back to the General who is speaking with one of the members of the investigation – a scientific type – who complains that it was too soon to test the weapon. In the final scene, she returns little Phobos to a storage facility where there are hundreds of little boxes containing many of it’s kind.

What attracted me to this movie at first was the makeup-job for the alien Ediolon. It was top notch. But additionally, the CGI was not bad except for the little Phobos – I kind of thought that was a little lame. I also enjoyed the set design. The ship really felt like a rickety old ship in need of a lot of repair.

RPG ideas out of this are aplenty, regardless of genre. You have the cold military faction willing to sacrifice it’s own to test a new weapon. You have the claustrophobic ship and it’s small crew. I think there was a lot of missed opportunity with the alien and the crew but the movie is considered a short. The secret weapon can be anything but the charm in this is that it is in something you did not expect – a cute cuddly creature.

  • Transport to no where: Transporting something dangerous is always a great opportunity to have a short adventure no matter what genre. It would be a space ship or it could be a sea vessel, either way, it can create very tense moments. Build up the dangerous thing they are transporting, make it mysterious and unpredictable. Don’t make it something they can look up in the monster manual. Make it something they know nothing about.
  • Allying with the Enemy: One of the missed opportunities brings be to another movie with similar themes and plot points. Pitch Black had a ship transporting multiple passengers including a dangerous prisoner crash-land on a hostile world. The survivors are forced to ally with the prisoner to survive. You could do this in this case as well, with whatever the secret weapon being the common enemy.
  • Secret Weapon Testing Ground: Having the characters be placed in the middle of a testing ground is something I have used often in my sci-fi campaigns but it can be done in fantasy as well. Perhaps a king is testing a new kind of magic or a new spell. It can be anything.

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