Horror Movie Review: Leviathan (1989)

Leviathan is a science fiction horror film directed by George P. Cosmatos, it released in 1989. It follows a crew of underwater geologists who encounter a highly infectious, DNA altering disease. This particular affliction causes those affected to be transformed and consumed by a hideous mutant creature.

Geologist Steven Beck is hired by the CEO of Tri-Oceanic Corp to supervise an undersea mining operation for six months. The crew consists of members Dr. Glen ‘Doc’ Thompson, Elizabeth ‘Willie’ Williams, Buzz ‘Sixpack’ Parrish, Justin Jones, Tony DeJesus Rodero, Bridget Bowman and G.P. Cobb. While working outside their deep sea station in a pressure suit, Sixpack discovers a Soviet shipwreck, Leviathan. The crew salvage a safe from Leviathan. Inside they find records detailing the deaths of several crew members as well as a video log from the captain. Sixpack also finds a flask of vodka which he shares with Bowman. Doc and Beck review the captain’s video, which describes puzzling medical problems amongst his crew.

The next day, Sixpack feels sick and Doc discovers lesions along his back. He dies a few hours later, but Doc and Beck keep it quiet to avoid a panic. Doc checks the crew to confirm no one else is sick, but does not have the chance to examine Bowman. She finds Sixpack’s corpse, which is mutating and growing. When Bowman’s hair starts falling out, she realizes the same thing is happening to her. Beck and Doc request emergency evacuation. Unfortunately, the CEO reports a severe storm on the surface that will delay evacuation for 12 hours.

The infection is slowly spreading and those infected are mutating into monstrous creatures. Will the crew survive long enough to see the sun? Check out Leviathan to find out.

Do you enjoy films with a similar vibe to Alien, The Thing or DeepStar Six? Well, you’ll find enjoyment in Leviathan. It’s clearly heavily inspired by those movies but with the unique spin being that it’s set underwater. Something I really enjoyed was the unique ensemble of actors. There’s Marv (Home Alone), Winston (Ghostbusters) Robocop & Trautman (Rambo). Unfortunately, their characters in Leviathan lack depth and end up feeling like nothing more than clichés. I feel this is reflected in the performances of the actors. Nobody does a bad job but it doesn’t feel like anyone is giving it their all either.

I was amused by how calm the crew manages to stay. Especially when you consider that two of their crew mates had recently been horrificially murdered by an infectious, mutating monster. One guy even does a puzzle while another goes for a jog around the station completely alone. I understand that they are trying to take their mind of things but come on now.

Talking of the monster, the effects used are decent. This should come as no shock considering the creature effects were designed by Academy Award-winning special effects artist Stan Winston. There are some particularly nasty looking practical effects involving the mutations that hold up nicely. Still, you can tell the budget is limited. There is a lot of cutting away when someone is being killed or attacked. Also, a lot of the time the creature is barely seen or it’s shown in darkened environments. Considering the effort that must have gone into creating it, I feel the monster ends up feeling underutilised.

The epic finale feels all sorts of rushed and cobbled together. Strangely, it ends on a comedic note and the whimsical credits feel completely misplaced.

Overall, Leviathan doesn’t quite manage to reach the heights of the classic films that inspired it. However, it’s worth checking out. The mystery surrounding the creature, its increasing intelligence and how it spreads adds a creepy vibe to proceedings. You learn little about the characters and they lack any believable camaraderie. There are a couple of inconsistencies but nothing that you can’t just look past. On the whole, it’s alright.

  • The Final Score - 5.5/10