Friday, October 15, 2010

THE RIG

I was really hoping to enjoy THE RIG (2010). I love monster-on-the-loose flicks, and this one looked to be so simple and straightforward a set-up that I couldn't imagine how anyone could screw it up.

I seriously underestimated director Peter Atencio.

Here's the plot: most of the crew of a deep-sea oil-drilling platform are evacuated ahead of an approaching hurricane, leaving only a skeleton crew aboard, led by hardcase roughneck Jim (veteran heavy William Forsythe, G-MEN FROM HELL). Unfortunately, several bloodthirsty, inhuman creatures have been released from beneath the ocean floor by the drill, and the vicious monsters stalk the isolated, unarmed crew, killing them off one-by-one...

Shot on a real oil platform, THE RIG definitely benefits from the authentic location and the verisimilitude it provides. Forsythe is as good as usual, and familiar character actor Art LeFleur (TRANCERS, ZONE TROOPERS) also shines in his small role. The creatures are quite good, executed primarily through the use of performers in well-designed monster suits and other practical effects, with only a limited use of CGI. There are some decent gore make-ups and a bit of gratuitous boobage. All good.

But - top-billed Forsythe is barely in the picture. Worse, the direction (and editing) by Peter Atencio is leaden and utterly suspense-less, and he is poorly served by the amateurish acting of the bulk of the cast. The script is stupidly plotted and packed with banal dialogue (not that a logical script with snappy patter is vital for a B-monster movie, but it sure helps) and the movie's pace is sluggish, padded with unnecessary and obvious time fillers like endless shots of empty corridors, gratuitous slow-motion and pointless, black & white flashbacks to events that occurred only minutes before (and repeated again, later in the film!). Even the "fade to black" scene transitions are insanely slow and drawn-out.

The movie doesn't even end on a high note - instead, we get a protracted, ludicrous epilogue that actually drags the viewer's attention away from the only character we've come to care even slightly about, to instead resolve a soap opera subplot for a minor character who's barely in the film.

And, while I'm bitching - if your plot hinges, in part, on a menacing hurricane, it'd be nice if you actually attempted to portray one in your movie. Apparently, in the world of the film, a slight fog is enough to cause evacuations from oil rigs; all we ever see of this terrible storm is a couple of digital lightning flashes and an equally artificial mist. Some crashing waves, strong winds and torrential rain (not to mention the sound effects associated with same) might have actually added some pretense of danger to the situation. I guess it just cost too much to rent and haul some wind machines and fire hoses out to the location.

Anchor Bay's DVD is perfectly adequate, with a sharp (the movie was obviously shot on HD video) 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and Digital 5.1 audio. There's a commentary track by Atencio and producer James D. Benson, some behind-the-scenes footage, and a trailer.

As I said, I thought the creatures were pretty well done, but not so remarkable that I can bring myself recommend THE RIG, even to die-hard B-monster movie aficionados. Unlike a lot of bad creature features that can still be entertaining because they're so off-the-wall or the monsters so endearingly goofy, THE RIG is just dull and incompetent... so I expect you'll be seeing it on SyFy any day now.

BUYThe Rig