Oct 8, 2010Well, here again we have a situation where critics have completely and utterly failed to identify a good film. 'Below' is, from beginning to end, a fully convincing and gripping movie, with great acting, intelligent scripting, masterfully done camera work, and a truly chilling and claustrophobic atmosphere. To be fair, it does also suffer from the problems usually associated with ghost stories; namely, little actual payoff to accompany the buildup and suspense, and supernatural explanations that can seem a little...well...trite and hokey. Still, 'Below' is a gripping, unsettling, and ultimately immensely enjoyable experience, and one that doesn't require you to check your brain at the door. If you people are finally sick of the hackneyed torture porn garbage that we've been fed for the last 5 or 6 years, why don't you give this movie a try?… Collapse
Jul 2, 2014Below: 5/10: Much like M. Night Shyamalan's The Village halfway through Below I had a horrible feeling of dread. There were many ways the plot could still go and nothing but atmosphere and build-up had taken place. Yet I became convinced that a lame obvious payoff was in my future. I was right.
Below tells such a simple straightforward story that the histrionics throughout the film seem even more overblown in retrospect than during the viewing. The movie succeeds on some levels, it has a nice Pitch Black homage, very good special effects and set design and it does create a spooky atmosphere with sounds all around you and slamming door and flickering lights. (Director Twohy throws so many fright clichés at you I'm surprised the submarine doesn't have a cat.)
The downsides, besides the disastrous ending, are more plentiful. Bruce Greenwood, playing the acting skipper, comes across as more of a fishing charter captain than a sub commander in wartime. And Olivia Williams, as the rescued nurse, plays cold so well that I was rooting for the only piece of eye-candy in the whole film to die, disappear or at the very least shut up.
All of this is a bit of a shame because take away the ghost story (and the endless bump in the night cheap scares that accompany it) you have yourself a pretty serviceable psychological thriller. On top of that the action scenes with the Germans attacking the sub are certainly tenser than any of the haunting stuff.
Director Twohy would have been wise to dump the end and gone with a straightforward crippled World War 2 sub story.… Expand