Deep Blue Sea (1999)

One from the rewatch pile…

Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Film: You have just got to love a good monster movie, and it’s especially great when that film has a monster that is either based in reality, or is reality tweaked to some tiny degree to make it even more fearsome, or in the case of a film like, say Zombeavers or Night of the Lepus, a tiny bit fearsome.

So, of course everyone loves a good shark movie; hell, if the Sharknado films are anything to go by, everyone loves even a BAD shark movie! Deep Blue Sea came along at just the right time: The 90s, in general, was a wasteland of bad horror being made as studios tried to tap into what made the 80s franchises so great, but missed either the point, or the boat.

Sure this decade gave us Scream, which in itself was a parody of Craven’s own work, and The Blair Witch Project, which was more about clever marketing than good filmmaking or storytelling but in general, horror had temporarily gone the way of the western.

Deep Blue Sea was somewhat of a surprise. Written by Valentine’s Donna and Wayne Power, and Bait’s Duncan Kennedy, one thing from the 80s this film did utilise was Renny Harlin as director, who is probably best know for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, and a whole bunch of action films from the 90s, including Cliffhanger and Die Hard 2.

Deep Blue Sea tells of a scientific facility in the ocean known as Aquatica, where scientists, including Dr. McAlester (Saffron Burrows), Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgård) and other are attempting to show off to a potential investor, Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) their research into getting proteins from genetically altered shark’s brains and using them to repair the broken pathways in the brains of sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease.

The problem is the sharks have gotten smarter, and even though shark wrangler Carter Blake (Thomas Jane) has suspicions, even he isn’t aware of just how smart, and very soon the sharks have figured out how to flood the facility, and using the staff as their very own human smorgasbord…

This film honestly could have been called ‘Deep Blue Trope’ as it took generic formulas from 80s slasher films and turned them into a monster movie. This is basically Friday the 13th, with the stereotypical teens (the cool black guy, the oversexed couple, the frigid final girl and the cool tough guy… and some throwaway characters you would never care about) in an abandoned area with no way out and something stalking them, which is a shark instead of a serial killer: it even does the killer POV camera shots! Maybe the juxtaposition of these two horror tropes is what makes the film kind of interesting.

The movie, yes, is generic, but I have to admit that I have a big problem with just how smart the sharks became. An animal working out that a gun is something that can hurt you is one thing, but figuring what video cameras do and then disabling them, with no context, is quite another, and ultimately, Jane’s character’s realisation as to the shark’s motivation, we’ll, even for a monster movie is pretty far-fetched.

There is some nice early appearances of some actors who went on to the greater things. Samual L. Jackson was still an actor when this was made, and didn’t just play Samual L. Jackson, like he does these days.

The real tragedy of this film is the closing credits are choked with an awful rap by LL Cool J, who also plays the chef who works at the facility. I also must admit to feeling sorry for Saffron Burrows: Even though her character is possibly the most important one in the film, and is even the only human on the cover, she actually doesn’t get a cover credit, and instead Skarsgård and Michael Rapaport, who aren’t in it as often, do. That’s a pretty sad indictment on the film’s release.

Score: ***

Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian, region B Bluray release of the film which runs for approximately 105 minutes and is presented in a satisfactory 2.35:1 image with a pretty spectacular DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: There’s a couple of Ok extras on this disc.

First there is a commentary with Harlin and Jackson, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t recorded together. Jackson talks about the story of the film, and Harlin looks more at the making of the film and the processes.

When Sharks Attack is a selection of behind the scenes footage with an occasional sound byte from a cast or crew member, which, to summarise, comes together as ‘sharks are scary’.

Sharks of the Deep Blue Sea looks at all the various effects used to make the special effects sharks work.

There is a trailer for the film.

There’s a bunch of deleted scenes as well, and, as expected, the optionally accompanying commentary does little to convince otherwise.

Score: ***

WISIA: Deep Blue Sea is an amusing distraction that I have watched a couple of times, but realistically, if it weren’t for a sequel coming out, I probably would not have revisited it.

Before I Wake (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Before I Wake (2016)

Before I Wake Australian Bluray cover

Film: It must be horrible to make something that no one seemingly gives a damn about. I know that one of my biggest fears about this very site is that I’ll go a week with absolutely no hits, and that what I am doing is just shouting into the wind. That’s possibly quite egotistical but I guess we all want to make a mark in some way and my wanting to make that mark is why I continue to do what I do… that and warning you, dear reader, against some of the scourges of cinema.

What must be really horrible is to be a part of a collaborative project like a film that just gets dumped and almost feels like it’s sole purpose for existence is to disappear and be forgotten. I get angry when I see films that just slip into release with not even a by-your-leave.

This film seemed to be one of these ones that slipped by without anyone noticing and I was surprised as it has a decent cast (Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane and Annabeth Gish) and a decent director writer in Mike Flanagan (Oculus and the excellent Hush). 

Jesse (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) are a couple in crisis: an indeterminate time ago their son, Sean (Antonio Evan Romero) died when he drowned in his bath. Jesse and Mark are making an attempt to recover from their horrible misfortune by taking on a foster child, Cody (Jacob Tremblay), a 7 year old who has been subjected to some mistreatment himself, such as abandonment, and an attempted murder.

Thomas Jane as Mark and Kate Bosworth as Jesse

When Cody joins the family, unusual things start to happen. Whenever Cody sleeps, they are visited by butterflies that disappear into mist once he wakes up. The longer he is exposed to the family though, the ghostly butterflies turn into a ghostly form of Sean, and Jesse becomes obsessed with telling and showing Cody more and more about Sean, as the more he knows, the more defined the ‘ghost’ of Sean becomes.

There’s more to Cody’s dreams though, as the manifestation has a dark side too as a horrible thing, the Canker Man (Topher Bousquet), also comes to visit…. And sometimes he takes things away with him…

Jacob Tremblay as Cody

So as you can see by that synopsis, it has all the foundations for a good, modern Nightmare on Elm Street type thing, with dreams becoming reality, but Flanagan has been so meticulously careful with the subject matter of a child whose passed that the supernatural elements of the story suffers for it. 

Maybe it’s just the horror of losing a child is far greater than any supernatural claptrap.

Bosworth, Jane and Gish are amazing in the film. Bosworth plays the emotionally delicate mother to a T, and Jane as the ‘trying to be tough through it all’ average joe (with a terrible Nickelback styled haircut) plays opposite her beautifully. Special marks have to go to the wonderful performance by newcomer Tremblay, who plays the tortured child with emotion greater than his years, and quite understated.

The direction of the movie is wonderful, and the effects… and the subtlety of the effects… are fantastic (if you watch this film, watch the antennae of the butterflies to see what I mean), but this film suffers for its subject matter.

Sometimes films do get dumped and as sad as that is, sometimes it’s because they are misguided in where the horror lies. This is melodrama dressed as horror, and if I were reviewing the performance for a dramatic film about the loss of a child, it would score quite high, but if this is a horror film, well, not so much. 

Score: **

The Australian Bluray menu screen

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Bluray release, which runs for approximately 97 minutes and is presented in an immaculate 2.40:1 image and a matching Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: You didn’t want extras, did you? Well tough: there is none.

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s not my thing, so no.

Topher Bousquet as The Canker Man