Dead in the Water (2018) - The title says it all.

Director: Sheldon Wilson Starring: Brandon Auret, Nikohl Boosheri, Nicole Fortuin, Bianca Simone Mannie, Skye Russell, Tanya van Graan, Christia Visser & Amy Louise Wilson.

A small group of female activists and an ichthyologist from university (who likes fish, but suffers from seasickness) are hot on the heels, or rudder – whatever is the nautical equivalent - of an illegal fishing vessel when their boat suffers from engine failure and they find themselves stranded in the middle of the ocean. Whilst trying to fix the engine and under the threat of an approaching storm, one of the group spots a body in the ocean. They bring the man aboard only to have him attack the crew and flee into the depths of the boat.

None of them seem to notice that the man appears to be scared and may, in fact, be running away from them, rather than seeking to actually cause harm; so they arm themselves and set out in pursuit.

If having a crazed man on the loose wasn’t bad enough, the stranger also happens to be the host for an unknown organism, an organism that seeks another warm body to spread to.

At first, things seem pretty interesting as the crew deal with the issues of being stranded, to then trying to track down the stranger (Brandon Auret) and the cat-and-mouse element of the film is pretty entertaining. Especially when my expectations weren’t that high when starting the film. Not due to anything negative I’d heard about it, but because it was made for TV, more specifically, the Syfy channel. Now, I kind of prepare myself for a certain level of soap opera acting whilst settling down to watch something of that nature, (especially when it’s from the SyFy channel with their track record of movies that pit a bad CGI creature against another equally artificial-looking creation (no, I’m not talking about Tara Reid). In this instance though, the CG effects were passable. Don’t get me wrong, they were plenty of obviously fake waves and things, but I’ve seen a lot, lot worse. And, low budget effects shouldn’t matter if the story is entertaining enough.

Unfortunately, that’s where the movie falls apart.

First of all the crew of the Amphitrite (which is the boat’s name) aren’t really introduced. Other than the ichthyologist (whose character name I’ve already forgotten). The rest of the crew are just, sort of there, hanging about. Sure, there’s the world’s worst medical student whose limp-wristed chest compressions couldn’t even wrangle a fart out of a fat man who’s just eaten 5 tins of cold beans and the mechanic who alternates between freaking out and threatening her friends. To then going back to boat repairs to freaking out again. It’s like she has a little on-off switch that changes her mood without any warning whatsoever – feel free to insert your own ‘typical woman’ stereotypical joke here.

Apart from that, for the most part, the crew just kind of putter about, not really achieving anything. There is nothing memorable about their characters and that’s a real shame because, despite these rather forgettable individuals, the actors all did a good job. I know that sounds odd considering what I said about them being forgettable, but the characters were well played, just not well written.

Despite that though, the cast all seemed to get a fairly equal amount of screen time, with none of them being shoved into the background and they played their roles well, but it just felt as though they weren’t fleshed out enough, or made interesting enough to be particularly memorable. And that’s where the movie is lacking. There’s nothing new to be experienced here and that just makes the whole thing drag. It’s not long before the events on screen mimic the film’s title and, unfortunately, ends up not going anywhere.

It’s a real shame that everything has a very ‘seen it all before’ feel to it.

Even the score is nothing more than generic horror score number 5 and, whilst passable, it also, does nothing to make it particularly noteworthy. As with everything else it merely stutters along, melding into the background due to its generic nature and only really makes itself known when the inevitable jump scares occur and the expected sudden, “blarp” sound occurs in an attempt to make something innocuous, attempt to be scary. You know the kind of scene I’m talking about. Characters are calling someone’s name, but the only reply is silence. Because for no logical reason whatsoever, the missing person decided that rather than reply with a sensible, “Yeah, I’m over here!” They instead drop a hand on someone’s arm whilst the brass section simultaneously sneeze into their instruments.

Like I said, “Seen it all before.”

That’s not to say that Dead in the Water is a terrible film, but it is one that fails to keep you interested and you’ll more than likely find yourself just half watching it in the background, whilst you get on with other things. I really had to fight hard to stop myself from reaching for my phone and scrolling through Facebook or, getting some ironing done or whatever, just to pass the time. In fact, if I wasn’t watching it for review purposes, I probably would have done just that.

The creature effects are reasonable, but the pasty little tentacled critter doesn’t have enough of a presence to make it feel like a tangible threat. The main danger the crew faces is that of their own incompetence. Also, for a creature that wanted to remain hidden, it gives that up towards the end of the movie by having teeny, wiggly tendrils poking out of the host’s face that rather gives the game away somewhat.

Actually, there are a couple of things I want to point out that were keeping the story afloat, and that was the lighting and set design. Torchlights cut through the darkness in long beams, highlighting just enough whilst still keeping the periphery in darkness. They looked quite natural without any of that, fake movie darkness to it where things are inexplicably lit by an unknown light source. And the boat looked…well, boaty. Look, I’m not a nautical person, I don’t know about these things, but it looked like how I would expect a boat to look. So, those things worked well.

It’s better than the usual Syfy movie fare of Hippocrocoshark vs Crabosaurus, or whatever, that they are more known for churning out, but, it’s that failure to bring anything new that was most disappointing for me. There were things that the movie did right, but it still failed to entertain after the opening twenty minutes and what could have been a tense movie that brought the all-female dynamics from The Descent and then mixed it with Life and The Thing, only stuck at sea, rather than space or the Antarctic, was instead tired and generic.

By all means, give it a go as something to throw on in the background, but don’t expect anything that’s going to stick with you or hold your interest.

In fact, going back to what I said earlier about it being a film that you can watch whilst doing other things, that’s probably the only real recommendation I can give.

Dead in the Water; a film you can half-watch whilst doing the ironing.

The film is available to rent on amazon prime in the UK:

And in the US:

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