The members of a ship’s all female crew are forced to fight for their lives against an unknown enemy while stranded in the middle of a massive storm 600 miles from shore.
From director Sheldon Wilson comes a SyFy feature that is receiving a little too much flak in my honest opinion. I read a few other reviews after I’d written my own and it felt like we’d seen different movies. I’ve changed the introduction to address this but have left the rest of it pretty much intact. Yes, the film is very similar in plot to The Thing, but that film itself was a remake (and was remade) and yes, the “all female crew” line does sound SJW or far-left influenced, but there was absolutely no politics in this film whatsoever…none that had any impact on the story or the plot aside from it being a little unlikely that the entire crew would be female–but so what? Not everything has to be political and I don’t feel like the film was trying to grind any gears, appeal to an agenda or push any buttons. Fuck, maybe it was done to get more people to watch the film or stir up free press. I personally watched it because I love me some Lovecraftian creature feature films and this sounded just right. Let’s continue…
In the opening act, the first noticeable fault is that the CGI is somewhat lackluster; something typical of those late-night B-grade SyFy films. The water and the fog are poorly rendered and were clearly not the top priority on the budget list. The acting, on the other hand, is actually quite decent, as is the writing. We are introduced to our all-female motley crew of poacher-hunting badass heroines. No time is wasted with the dialogue forcefully catching you up on the story within ten minutes. The pace continues quite relentlessly with the plot progressing almost scene for scene, which was a pleasant change from films that draw out the opening acts trying to build a narrative around some attractive actor or actress rather than tell a story. I will say that I did have a bit of trouble trying to figure out who was who for the first bit of the film as it was all quite manic, but I genuinely appreciated the non-stop action vibe.
As things go from worse to nightmarish, our crew of salty seafarers faces trial and tribulation of monstrous proportions, literally. It takes a while for the creatures to finally make their glorious appearance but there’s plenty of action, mystery, and suspense leading up to the slaughter.
Talking technical, the cinematography is great, as is the editing and the set. The score is kind of a nonfactor as it’s mostly generic and unmemorable. The lighting is dark and many of the shots have a bluish or grey hue but fortunately you’re capable of seeing everything going on, which is great as a serious pet peeve of mine is when films are purposely too dark to make out the creatures or kill scenes—cutting corners for the sake of the budget.
The acting, as I mentioned earlier, is stellar considering the nature of the film. While I cannot say that anyone truly stood out above the rest, Skye Russel’s portrayal of Rusty was easily my favourite character; kicking ass and taking names while remaining human and relatable. Overall, it was this well-assembled cast that really held the film together.
Where the CGI failed at the start of the film, it shines in the latter acts with the corpse and creature scenes very well done. While still centre to the plot, the creature really isn’t granted much screen time though its presence does permeate the plot in the latter half of the film. Surprisingly, the film manages to avoid the plethora of plot holes that generally haunt similar movies of the genre with the entity well explained, the reactions of the crew very human, and the story strong.
As we sail into the last act, I’m going to cut commentary on the story as to avoid spoilers and focus instead on why you should give this film a chance. It’s a throwback to films like Leviathan (1989) and Deepstar Six (1989), as well as more recent titles like Below (2002) and The Rig (2010). Taking away the “at sea” element, this is pretty much a tip of the hat to The Thing (1982), one of my all-time favourites (I’d even go as far as to say a reimagining). If you like or love any of the aforementioned titles, this will rub you the right way; Dead in the Water is by no means a horror masterpiece, but it is very reminiscent of films that are. It’s comfort food for those of us that love the creature feature subgenre and it’s a film done well.
Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer and poster below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.