Rates: * * *
Why Did I Watch It? I mean, a monster movie in 2020? They don’t make those anymore!
At the bottom of the Pacific, a support crew service an underwater drilling rig. Or, you assume they do that, as this film is approximately five seconds old before everything goes haywire, so you never see them doing their jobs. But anyway, very soon; the rig is disabled, oxygen and time are short a- wait… what’s that noise outside?
Like Frankenstein’s monster, only with old school action films instead of body parts, this enjoyably silly throwback borrows heavily from a number of genre favourites. So you have the characters imperilled by a natural disaster, before the monsters actually arrive (‘The Descent’, this film also borrows that one’s best scare); a futuristic facility on the ocean floor, disconnected from the surface (‘The Abyss’); and a rag tag crew picked off one by one by a mostly unseen beastie (the latest in a very long line to riff on ‘Alien’).
In fact, you will do well to find the bits that AREN’T lifted from another movie.
Despite this, or maybe even because of it, the film is a lot of fun. Big studios just don’t make these movies any more, and major movie stars never appear in them; this features both and so, what would have been a forgettable programmer in 1996, now seems like a bit of fresh air. This film is not connected to any sort of extended universe, and it will not be fleshed out into the trilogy that the directors ‘always intended.’
The movie star is Kristen Stewart, and she brings her inherant integrity and intensity to a character that is pretty underwritten. We don’t know anything about Nora (or any of the characters really), but Stewart manages to supply a bit of character development purely through the excellence of her skillset. And she is rocking a very cool look: a dyed blonde crew cut and glasses.
I got lost at times, once the monsters arrived; the characters are forced to trek across a subterranean plateau that is the definition of ‘murky’, and it is difficult to see exactly what is going on. Likewise, some scenes seemed to end more or less at random, with the fade in of the next picking up the story seemingly a bit later. I watched this last night and I could not tell you, with absolute certainty, what happened to all of the characters.
Still, for people my age: an enjoyable bit of nostalgia, and an echo of an earlier time when life, and movies, were much simpler.