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An astronaut, Corporal Bower (Ben Foster), wakes up from suspended hibernation to find himself alone, with no memory of who he is, what he is doing, or what happened to the crew of the 60,000 passenger sleeper ship, Elysium. He proceeds to wake up Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid), who is also suffering from memory loss. They are unable to access the ship's bridge and cannot communicate with any other members of the crew, including the flight crew team who they are supposed to relieve.
While exploring the spacecraft under Payton's radio guidance, Bower talks with Payton about Pandorum, a psychological condition brought on by extended periods of deep-space travel and hyper-sleep. Its symptoms and effects include severe paranoia, vivid hallucinations, and homicidal tendencies. Payton tells of another ship in which a single flight crew member, affected by Pandorum, jettisoned every crew member into space, killing five thousand.
As Bower continues on, he encounters dead bodies and fast-moving humanoid creatures. Escaping from one of them, he then encounters other human survivors, Manh (Cung Le) and Nadia (Antje Traue); they work together to reach the ship's nuclear reactor. Bower...