Black October 17: BelowOctober 17, 2009
Any movie set in the claustrophobic confines of a submarine will take on a terror aspect by virtue of that alone; Below takes that concept to a new level. It’s a unique story, well told, well acted, but lacking that zip I like in my spookshows.
I’d never heard of Below until it landed on my DVD shelf. But when I saw that it stars Bruce Greenwood of Star Trek, I popped it in right away. Bruce is cool. He’s Canadian, eh? He’s Canadian and he played JFK. That’s pretty cool.
In Below, Captain Pike himself plays the interim commander of a U.S. submarine during World War 2, taking the post after something happens to the captain. While on patrol, the sub picks up three survivors of a torpedoed British hospital ship, and the crew is jarred by the sudden presence on board of a nurse, played by Olivia Williams, an actress who doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of work she should. When the Americans realize one of the “British” survivors is actually an injured German POW, conflicts arise.
So far, typical sub movie. But then voices start echoing throughout the steel belly of the sub. Crewmen start glimpsing things in the shadows. And people start to die.
Below was directed by David Twohey and was produced and written, in part, by Darren Aronofsky. Great movie? No. It’s a bit slow, a little quiet, and the darkness makes it hard to follow — as do the lookalike actors playing the crew. I had trouble telling Generic White Guy No. 1 from Generic White Guy No. 4 sometimes. Greenwood and Williams are solid throughout, though, and they really carry this film.
I was listening to Horror Etc. a few weeks back, and co-host Tony mentioned finding Below in a discount bin somewhere. That’s the way to go with this movie, folks. It’s a fine film, but not something you’re going to want to pay a lot for — or keep.