A claustrophobic horror thriller set at sea. A very similar atmosphere to films like John Carpenters ‘The Thing.’ This to me was everything that ‘Underwater’ tried to be.
Director: Neasa Hardiman
Screenwriter: Neasa Hardiman
Starring: Connie Nielsen, Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott
Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror
Runtime: 195 Minutes
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by: Pearl
Introvert Siobhan is studying for her doctorate in Marine Biology (or some such marine life-based degree,) and agrees to go out on a fishing trawler as part of her research. While out in the open sea the boat is attacked by some kind of marine life form, and parasites from this life form make it into the water supply on the ship, meaning Siobhan, and the crew, all have to fight for survival.
I enjoyed this a while lot more than I was expecting to. I was expecting a cheesy knock off of eighties classic ‘The Thing’. And while this definitely has elements of that, and the claustrophobic atmosphere if the film is very similar, I think this film does enough to keep itself separate from the beloved cult classic.
Like all great sci-fi horror films, it is slow to start, taking the time to establish it’s characters and their relationships and set the scene for the horror show that will come later. Even after the boat is ‘attacked’ you still feel pretty OK, I mean nothing terrible and irreversible has happened yet right. Its only after the excursion to the other abandoned boat, and the discoveries that they make there, that things start to go south quickly! And once things start to ramp up, the tension builds and the suspicions start flying around and makes the second half of the film a lot more action packed than the first.
It’s by no means an original story. ‘Undiscovered life form attacks small community of people’ has been done a thousand times in multiple settings, deep sea and frozen in ice seem to be two of the most popular, and while it won’t blow you away in terms of un foreseen twists (trust me you see how the film is going to play out pretty early on.) It is enjoyable enough that you can sit through one more undiscovered monster movie to get to the somewhat unexpected finale.
I don’t think most of the very small coast of actors here are that well known, which sometimes can be a good thing. If you know a film is packed with well seasoned actors, you expect so much more from them sometimes. But a film filled with little known actors can sometimes be a hidden joy if you find that all their performances stand up. And that is certainly true here. Hermione Corfield plays Siobhan our lead character, and she totally holds her own, commanding the attention of the audience despite her characters sometimes frustratingly demure personality.
Siobhan can be a bit of a wet blanket and is not always the most engaging or likeable lead character. But the bigger personalities around her more than make up for it, and Siobhan (unsurprisingly) finds her feet by the end of the film. There is nowhere to hide in a cast this small, for the majority of the film there are only around 7 characters, so it’s a good thing everyone could bring a sturdy performance, or they would have stuck out like a sore thumb.
It’s not been talked about a lot (at least I haven’t seen it around), but if you are looking for a new sci-fi horror to watch I can recommend you give this one a try. It is currently available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime UK.