Below (2002)

(On DVD, January 2004) Much like Equilibrium, this rather good film received a confidential distribution in the United States, was never shown in Canada and quickly went to video as if it was unworthy of a wide release. Don’t believe the lack of marketing: Below is the kind of little B-movie gem that deserved a much, much bigger audience. A canny blend of WW2 submarine thriller and supernatural horror, Below is another one of director David Twohy’s unassuming but excellent films (see Timescape, The Arrival, Pitch Black, etc.). While you’re unlikely to recognize any of the names in the cast, don’t worry: The film is a slick piece of entertainment, a great crowd-pleaser with a few twists and plenty of extra chills. (Yay for the Lovecraft-reading sailor!) It slowly builds to a pretty intense situation, with just about every single submarine mishap in the way. Some darkly humorous situations (bong-bong-bong went the depth charge) are a highlight. Despite the relatively low budget, the film looks fantastic, with beautiful cinematography and nearly-perfect set design. A treat for anyone looking for those overlooked B-grade gems. Don’t miss it. The DVD contains an ordinary making-of featurette which doesn’t do to much to compensate for the sparse and jokey audio commentary: Director Twohy and the cast members present at the track’s recording don’t take the film very seriously and seem more intent on being sarcastic than informative.

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