FEATURE: Shocktober '15 - Deep Rising

Over the course of October, I shall be watching one horror movie a day and reviewing it right here for your reading pleasure. I haven't seen any of the films I'll be watching before and you can find the full list here.



And now for something completely different.

Yesterday's film, The Babadook, was an evocative film that relied on its subtly. Deep Rising? Well, Deep Rising is anything but. You can pretty much tell this straight away from the hilarious "Full scream ahead" tagline.

Treat Williams' Finnegan and his crew have been hired by a bunch of mercenaries to take over and rob one of the most expensive cruise liners in the world. However, when they get there, there are no passengers to be found except a smattering of crew and captured jewel thief, Trillian (Famke Janssen). The characters begin to disappear in that traditional one-by-one way of most horror creature features and it's soon revealed to our surviving band of anti-heroes that they're being consumed by giant, spiky tentacles. They have to find a way off the ship before they're served up next on the menu.

No matter the creature, the feature or the characters lining up to be consumed, there's something quite comforting in a B-movie effort such as this. Everything has a slightly naff quality to it, which just makes it all the more adorable in its goofy way. The now-ropey effects are a big part of that, every tentacle carrying the kind of CGI sheen that all late 90s special effects now seem to have. The make-up effects and practical work is better; the half-digested body is displayed gleefully by the camera, lingering on an acid-consumed face in what amounts to a staring competition with the audience. The feeding area is a gory delight as we pan across liquified viscera and skeletal remains.

The energetic cast, all fully aware of the kind of feature they're in, approach their various roles with gusto. The ever-reliable Wes Studi goes overboard on his cutthroat mercenary captain, snarling his way through even when all seems lost and he's ably supported by a bunch of "oh, it's that guy!" actors as his crew. Treat Williams gets to do the roguish scavenger and does it well, almost begrudgingly taking up the sort-of hero mantle. I particularly enjoyed that the tentacles were kind enough to give him time for a one-liner before every attack.

Refreshingly, none of the characters are outright heroes so the film doesn't really waste any time on getting us to like people who'll be killed off pretty quickly as the film goes along. The most development we get for any of them is a quick sketch of an archetype so that any comeuppance needed feels like a suitable pay-off. It also means that, apart from sort-of hero Treat Williams and wet vest-wearing Famke Janssen, you're never quite sure who's actually going to survive. Arguably, there's only really one character who signs his death warrant early on by going full snivelling weasel. The rest are fair game.

In keeping with its general adorable naffness, the dialogue is decidedly on the silly side, relying on repetition to ensure we, the audience, understand the kind of peril they're in (a cry of "they won't be looking for us for 24 hours" is met with "you mean we won't even be rescued for a day or two?"). There's a character who spouts of marine biology at great length to explain what these creatures are, despite the film making it quite clear he's a ship builder. It's never quite as quotable as say Lake Placid or Deep Blue Sea, but the dialogue is knowing enough that it remains consistently entertaining.

Deep Rising is the kind of B-movie fare that sometimes you just need in your life. It's ridiculous, silly and entirely predictable but it scratches that creature feature itch. Stephen Sommers may have produced some rubbish in his time, but it always errs on the side of entertaining, though he'd find more success with The Mummy after this.

- Becky

You can find my other Shocktober '15 reviews here.

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