Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Film Review: Below (2002)

Below (Review)
United States/2002
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a great job in building an eerie and ominous atmosphere..."

During World War II, the USS Tiger Shark rescues the survivors of a British hospital ship. Later, the crew face a German ship, as well as their own sanity.

Below mainly follows Lieutenant Brice (Bruce Greenwood) and Ensign Odell (Matthew Davis), as well as Paige (Olivia Williams), of the British ship. They face a German ship on their tail, as well as their own psyche. Is the submarine haunted or is the crew hallucinating from a lack of oxygen? They do, in fact, hallucinate and hear voices, and they also bicker and fight amongst each other. The story leads to a great resolution; the ending has some corny dialogue, though.

Below does a great job in building a sense of paranoia. You can have an idea, but you really don't know if it's sabotage or supernatural. Below also does a great job in building an eerie and ominous atmosphere; this, in turn, amplifies the suspense and tension aboard the USS Tiger Shark. On that point, the setting is immersive and... well, cool. Submarines are awesome, to be blunt. There are some creepy visuals and some jolting jump-scares, as well.

One of the issues I had was with Paige's character. This character is conniving, demanding and disrespectful. The other characters aren't exactly drenched in charisma, but at least give me a reason to tolerate Paige's self-righteous and arrogant behavior. (that reason never comes by the way.) Otherwise, the rest of the film has room for improvement, but there aren't many glaring and staggering flaws to be found; I guess you can say the room for improvement is small but notable.

The acting is all-around good. Bruce Greenwood and Matthew Davis are good. Despite having issues with her character, Olivia Williams did well, too. The film looks great; like I said, I loved the setting, and the great cinematography helps it shine. The music is standard horror/thriller music; works for the genre, but nothing distinct. Director David Twohy does a great job in crafting the atmosphere and developing genuine suspense; the story has some flaws, and it occasionally loses momentum, but it is a spooky and effective film thanks to Twohy's direction.

Overall, Below is a very good horror-thriller. It's a slow-burn film with a great suspense and and a spooky atmosphere. There's room for improvement and one character is a rotten apple for the film, but it works out to deliver an entertaining and even frightening film. Don't overlook Below.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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