Horror Movie Review: Deep Rising (1998)

Released in 1998, Deep Rising is an action horror movie that combines a B-movie story with A-grade effects to good results. Well, mostly good results.

It’s a lot of fun to watch with plenty of action, comedy and horror to enjoy but also takes some unfortunate mis-steps that stop it being a classic 90’s movie. Directed by Stephen Sommers, Deep Rising stars Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Wes Studi, Kevin J. O’Connor and Anthony Heald.

The latter is the owner of the Argonautica, the biggest and most luxurious cruise ship ever to set sail. The boat is on its maiden voyage and packed to the hilt with the rich and famous, all having a decadent time. That is until an unknown person sabotages the ship’s navigation and communications systems leaving the boat dead in the water.

As the crew scramble to fix the problem, a large and unidentified object begins to rise up below the ship. It collides and the passengers begin to panic. As they run they are picked off by unseen creatures.

Elsewhere on the ocean, John Finnegan (Treat Williams) and his crew of Joey (Kevin J. O’Conner) and Leila (Una Damon) have been hired by a bunch of mercenaries. A group led by Hanover (Wes Studi), they have instructed Finnegan to take them to a specific place with no questions asked.

That’s the motto of Finnegan and his crew but it becomes increasingly difficult to do when they hit an empty speedboat in the ocean. With the boat damaged, the trio see that the speedboat came from the Argonautica which is lying dead in the water. It’s here that the mercenaries reveal they are here to rob the boat and sink it.

Finnegan and his crew have no choice but to board the Argonautica with the mercenaries to find parts to repair their ship. However, once aboard they don’t find what they expected. All the passengers are gone, the boat is in complete disarray and there is blood everywhere.

Confused and worried, the plan to rob the vault remains the same but the job has suddenly got a whole lot tougher. Just what happened on the Argonautica?

Deep Rising builds its intrigue and keeps its monsters in the shadows for quite a while. It makes for quite a terrifying prospect when it is revealed, showcased in still pretty decent CGI. Beasties from deep below the sea, they are like serpents, eating and digesting you while you’re still alive. This idea allows the movie to show off the practical effects and they are mighty impressive.

Once the monsters are revealed, it becomes a fight for survival with a few twists and turns along the way. Wholly enjoyable stuff thanks to a strong cast and memorable characters. Treat Williams may not be the ultimate badass this movie tries to make him, but his no-nonsense every-man character is likable. Alongside him, Kevin J. O’Conner’s Joey is the comic relief who has some charm about him. Then there is Famke Janssen as one of the surviving passengers, a strong female role let down by bad writing that has to have the girl fall for the hero guy.

Opposite them is the excellent Wes Studi and his motley band of mercenaries. A mixed bunch, they don’t have much to work with and most are there just to die.

No complaints with the acting, characters, effects or story…so what doesn’t work for Deep Rising? Well, it’s too long. Probably about 20 minutes too long as it begins to drag in the latter third. The introduction of a bigger beastie doesn’t quite have the impact it should have either and the finale is very confusing and far too convenient.

As complaints go, there are far worse to have. Overall, Deep Rising is a bit of an ‘unchain your brain’ movie that everyone can enjoy. If you like big action set-pieces and explosions, you’ll get it here. If you like romance during impossible times? You’ll get it here. If you like gooey and visceral gore? You’ll get it here.


  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

Deep Rising
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