Volume 91, Issue 70

Tuesday, February 3, 1998



Not rising above old horror film cliches

By Carey Franklin
Gazette Staff

Occasionally people attend a film that they are unfamiliar with, only to be pleasantly surprised by the wonderful acting, fine cinematography and endearing story-line. Unfortunately, Deep Rising is not one of these films.

Deep Rising, directed by Stephen Sommers, is merely laughable. Since the horror genre has been revisited recently with such hits as Scream and Scream II, Sommers tried to meld the elements of the traditional genetically-mutated monster with the public's new love affair with boats. The result is (surprise, surprise) a horror movie which takes place on a cruise ship that is attacked by a sea creature on steroids.

To start, all of the film's actors are new faces to the screen. While it is nice for Hollywood to present a film that doesn't rely purely on star power, it becomes a futile attempt when the script sucks.

The hero of Deep Rising, Finnigan (Treat Williams), is the feisty captain of a little boat which transports any cargo, no questions asked. On this voyage, the cargo consists of 10 torpedoes and a bunch of navy seal wannabes, who are brimming with arrogance and testosterone.

The goal is to sink the most luxurious cruise ship ever created, the Arganautica, because it is far too expensive to maintain. However, when Finnigan's gang reaches the liner, plans have changed. Instead of having to torpedo the ship, a mutated squid-like thing has risen from the depths of the sea and made a light snack of the 800 people on board.

In true horror style, the gang decides to hang around on this death trap and kill the beast. Of course many lives are compromised in the process, but the suspense is minimal because the audience always knows which one will die next – it's either hinted to by the scary music or when there is a voice of resistance to one of Finnigan's manly plots. Although the film is frightening in spots, most of the time the events are so predictable one can't help but burst out laughing. Especially when someone's brain is splattered all over the bathroom mirror.

As well, a film can not present a plot like this with no explanation as to where the creature comes from. What is normally a harmless little sea creature about the size of a golf ball at surface level, actually gets larger and uglier the lower down you find it. Although modern audiences like to live in a surreal, fantasy world every once in a while, proven by such blockbuster hits as Independence Day and Jurassic Park, they are not stupid and do not enjoy being patronized.

An equally ridiculous aspect is the nonchalant way in which Finnigan interacts with the puss-filled squid. For instance, when he is trapped in the creature's tentacles, with no hope of rescue, staring directly into the eye of this "thing," he replies calmly, "What are you looking at?" Although sound bites may have made Clint Eastwood's career, it just doesn't work for Williams.

On top of this, the effects are hopeless and the terror angle just doesn't cut it. In all, Deep Rising is literally one of the worst films made in some time – easily surpassing the entire Honey, I Shrunk the Kids trilogy. All of the film's horrendous qualities are summed up by two words: whoa, nasty. When the mechanic in the film first realizes Finnigan is transporting torpedoes, he bellows, "Whoa...Nasty!" You can't say it any better than that.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998