Set during World War II, 2002’s Below takes place on board an American submarine ordered to find survivors from the wreckage of a British ship. They pick up some Brits representing both types of English accent – one unbearably posh, one insufferably cockney. But when strange occurrences begin to occur, it becomes evident that they are not alone on the submarine.
If Alien is a haunted-house movie on a spaceship, then Below is a haunted-house movie on a submarine. In fact this is essentially Twenty Thousand Leagues Alien 3. Except boring. If the aim of this film is to depict the sheer tedium of life on a submarine then it succeeds. But that isn’t its aim; its aim is to scare. But when every jump is so signposted and every character so lifeless it’s unlikely to succeed. All the ghosts seem to do is turn on record players and light bulbs. Why are ghosts always just slightly tinkering with electrical appliances?
The only interesting thing about Below is its roster – the cast includes Dexter Fletcher and Zach Galifianakis while there’s a writing credit for a certain Darren Aronofsky. The film’s best scare involves a mirror, the sort Aronofsky would re-use and perfect in 2010’s Black Swan. But this is one shining moment in a dull mire of a film, which stretches thin its single idea like Tim Berners-Lee.
Below is a dreary horror effort, which constantly pulls us out of its enclosed setting with poor writing and misplaced melodrama. Directed by David Twohy of the Riddick trilogy, this watery waste of time is sub-aquatic, sub-Alien and sub-par.