Directed by David Twohy. USA.  2002.

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Granted a brief theatrical release in the USA in 2002 and released straight to video and DVD in the UK, David Twohy’s latest film proves to be an excellent suspense thriller that’s far superior to most films that make it to the multiplexes.  After his previous science fiction films, The Arrival (1996) and Pitch Black (2000), Twohy’s latest is a crowd-pleasing horror film with an intriguing premise.  It’s a pity that Below will only be seen on the small screen in the UK, as it would play terrifically with a cinema audience.

Below echoes the classic horror film The Haunting (1963), as a crew on board a US submarine during World War II experience mysterious occurrences aboard their boat after they rescue three British survivors from a torpedoed medical ship.  As the unexplained incidents continue, many on the submarine become convinced that the boat is haunted.  If so, who or what is responsible and is there more to the crew of the submarine, and to the three survivors, than meets the eye?

Credit to the cast and crew for maintaining a compelling mystery throughout the picture, and for making the characters interesting and believable.  Refraining from indulging in continuous gore or casual violence, Twohy’s film instead features some terrific action sequences and well-timed shocks.  Many sequences are variations on moments from countless other horror films and submarine-based thrillers, but Twohy manages to make them fresh and surprising, particularly a gripping depth charge attack that’ll have viewers on the edge of their seats.  All the actors turn in convincing performances and the excellent digital effects are used to enhance the story, not cover up for the absence of one.  It’s a shame that Below has been lost amidst a flood of higher profiled, bigger budgeted - but less accomplished - cinema releases, when it deserves to reach a wide audience.

Martyn Bamber
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