(Review originally written at 5 July 2009)

It's very hard to still be able to come up with something original for the thriller-genre. "Dead Calm" however is a movie that stands out in originality, due to having a simple yet original and effective concept.

Greatest strength of this movie is the fact that it's set almost entirely on the open sea. For most part, the movie has just 3 characters in it (not counting in the dog). It gives the movie a certain sense of claustrophobia, paranoia and tension, without having feature too many thriller moments. The atmosphere and settings are enough for this movie to become a tense thriller.

Of course it's not a movie without its flaws. The movie perhaps could held on to its mystery a bit longer for instance. The movie now reveals things pretty early on already, while it perhaps could had been better and more effective if things got build up a bit more steady. Despite its originality it's still foremost pretty much a predictable movie, due to the way it's progressing. Still it remains the best Phillip Noyce movie till date and I'm far from a fan of his thriller-work normally. Still it's disappointing that the movie ends so poorly. The movie deserved a much better ending really.

A movie with mainly just 3 characters in it of course also needs to mostly rely on its actors. This movie is fortunate enough to feature 3 more than great actors, who were still fairly much unknown at the time of this movie. It stars Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill and Billy Zane before the world knew them as stars. All give away fine performance but I think it's fair to say that Zane gives away the best performance out of the movie. It's possibly the best role he ever played and it's what makes the movie work out as a tense thriller. He's a memorable psychopath and most of the the movie its tension comes from his character.

It's nice to see that such a simple movie, with such a simple concept and limited resources and settings can be such an effective one. It still remains one of the more original and effective thrillers in my book.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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