Film Length: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Six hundred feet beneath the surface
terror runs deep
I wouldn't consider myself a huge fan of horror
films, but I do enjoy a good scare now and then.
As a casual observer of the horror genre, I have
come to learn that the best scares often come from
those things you don't see. In other words,
the unknown is far more scarier than the obvious.
Below is a horror film that effectively uses
every trick in the book to produce some rather
effective bone-chilling scares. First of all, the
film takes place on a submarine creating a highly
claustrophobic atmosphere with its tight corridors
and eerie surrounding sounds. Put a bunch of
characters in a spooky environment that is shut
off from the rest of the world and you certainly
have what it takes to create a chilling haunted-house
The year is 1943. The submarine USS Tiger Shark
is on patrol in the deep seas. The submarine is
under the command of Lt. Brice (Bruce Greenwood),
who has just recently taken over after the previous
skipper died in a mysterious accident. Capt. O'Dell
(Matthew Davis), a newcomer on the ship, doesn't seem
to trust the new commander, suspecting there is more
to the accident than his superior is letting on.
Orders suddenly come through to pick up three
survivors from a torpedoed British hospital ship.
Upon arrival, the USS Tiger shark picks up three
survivors who are cautiously welcomed. One of the
survivors is a nurse named Claire (Olivia Williams),
who immediately becomes subjected to sexist remarks
made by the onboard sailors.
Soon after their rescue, strange occurrences start
happening aboard the submarine. After a while, the
occurrences start to become very violent and the crew
begins to believe that the ship is haunted by ghosts.
It is apparent that some unknown force is targeting
the submarine, and the crew suddenly finds themselves
racing against time to figure out what this force
Below could have easily been dismissed as
a run-of-the-mill horror film, but actually rises
above most others for the fact that it is
scary. Director David Twohy (Pitch Black) uses the
cramped setting of a submarine to great advantage.
It is here that he creates the gloomiest of
atmospheres with its tight tangled passageways and
failing electronics that leave the crew in complete
darkness. Imagine being trapped in a haunted house
that has no exit door, and you can imagine the kind
of chills this film offers.
How is the transfer?
The transfer is superb. The print is pristine and
images are razor-sharp and well detailed with
excellent color rendering. The background is nice
and smooth with no visible grain nor noise. Just
The real highlight of this DVD is its extremely
active and effective 5.1 surround track. It is not
often that a film absolutely needs a mix as good as
this one to help deliver its spine-tingling chills.
Imagine yourself trapped below the water's surface
in a submarine with no quick exit. Surrounding you
are the various creaks and noises of the shifting
bulkhead. As you sit and watch this film, I promise
you will actually feel like you are trapped
in that submarine. This sensational soundtrack
throws every rumble, clank and screech at you from
every direction. Your heart will begin to race
as you find the entire listening area suddenly probed
by the sounds of sonar ping. Your heart will then
pound as you find yourself under attack by a German
warship as it drops depth charges that explode across
the entire soundfield with booming LFE support. Not
since Das Boot and U-571 has a film
actually made you feel as if you were trapped inside
a doomed vessel, and this soundtrack certainly conveys that horror.
The DVD offers a full-length commentary with
director David Twohy and actors Matt Davis, Bruce
Greenwood, Holt McCallany, Zach Galifianakis and
Nick Chinlund. When you put so many young people
together you can only expect this commentary to
be more freewheeling and jovial. Unfortunately,
there isn't much to be learned here. We never hear
what it was like to be trapped for months on a
small submarine set or anything about the effects
shots that were done. This is basically just a
bunch of actors having a good time mocking on one
another with Twohy occasionally interjecting
information about how he framed various shots. If
there is anything we do learn from this commentary
is the cast's most memorable moments together on
The Process is the kind of featurette I
wish studios would make more often! Instead of being
some self-promotional BS piece, it serves as a
rather cool film diary that takes us through various
rehearsals, shoots and set walkthroughs. It's a
slickly produced and nicely entertaining look at
the process of putting together a film like this.
(length: approx. 12 minutes)
There are of almost 8 minutes worth of deleted
scenes that were obviously removed because they
slowed the film's overall pacing. One of the scenes
is effective in humanizing the crew as they ponder
various superstitions. Another scene involves a
rogue torpedo that the crew races to load and eject.
Another scene involves the use of flares for the
film's finale. The scenes are not presented in
Finally, the original theatrical trailer
I had heard rumors about production problems on
this film and that may have been the reason why
Dimension decided on a very low profile release for
the movie. Though the film didn't fare well on the
big screen, Below is perfect for the Home
Theater environment where it's utter creepiness
works brilliantly in a more intimate setting. This
is a horror movie that will work well with this
format, and it is my hope that with this DVD release
it will receive the favorable word-of-mouth it deserves.
At the very least, rent this film.
Release Date: March 11, 2003
All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality