David Twohy has mastered the art of the B-movie and relies on good old fashioned solid movie craftsmanship. Below is a throw back to old school haunted house movies with a modern twist, although it is set during WW II on an American submarine. After the sub picks up a few survivors weird things begin to happen on deck. Unexplainable and very creepy things. It doesn’t help matters that a German warship is chasing after them, or that the previous captain of the sub died under mysterious circumstances. Even before bizarre events start occurring the ship’s crew is rattled and nervous, which reminds me of a classic submarine movie, Das Boot (1981). This film benefits from its all cast of Bruce Greenwood, Olivia Williams, Matthew Davis, Holt McCallany, Scott Foley, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Flemyng and Dexter Fletcher. Its funny watching Flemyng, who is British, play an American crew member, and you also have Galifianakis in a rare dramatic role, which he should play more often because he’s rather good here. The film largely relies on atmosphere, which is laid on thick, and there are very few jump scare moments so the ones that pop up are utilized to heavy effect. Also Bruce Greenwood is the stoic replacement captain, and as the film goes on he slowly loses his grip on reality and what is really going on.
What I really also like about this movie is the banter between the crewmen, which feels realistic, and also the fact that Twohy resists many haunted house style cliches, choosing to attempt a movie that has both style and subsistence. Although there really isn’t much else to Below besides some political and social commentary that is not really explored, the film itself is another example of Twhoy’s talents as a director. Plus I really like Olivia Williams as an actress-she has a quiet grace to her, and she has played both sympathetic and antagonist roles in the past and in the present. Plus that ending is wonderfully mysterious, giving the viewer cause to question certain events and wonder about fate, and what possibly happened.
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