The Blood Vessel Bursts!
In the waning days of WWII, a lifeboat filled with survivors of a German U-boat bombing of an Allied hospital ship, drifts aimlessly in the water. These few hearty souls (three Americans, two British, one Australian, and one Russian) have run out of rations and hope. In the middle of the night they come upon a Nazi ship and cry out for help. They get no response. They figure out a way to get onboard and these survivors are surprised when no one comes out to greet them. The lifeboat crew begin to explore the vessel and find they are on a derelict ship. Nobody’s home. They do run across dead bodies that have been mutilated, and they find a small girl who is alive and fearful of them. Further investigation reveals even more scary truths, and once the survivors find out what is stored below decks on the Nazi boat, the find true terror. To say more would be to spoil it, but suffice to say, these folks are in for the fight of their lives.
Here’s what I liked about this movie: the setting, the dilemma, and the atmosphere of dread that slowly and constantly builds over the first portion of the film. There is a genuine mystery here to be solved. Why is this a ghost ship? What happened to the crew? The acting is good, too. I thought the characters were mostly fleshed-out using small personality quirks and traits. The ship itself is a looming, dark, creepy deathtrap and every corner and nook and cranny seems to hide some kind of danger. What I didn’t like: the reveal of the creatures, the creature designs, and the general generic feeling that fell on the third act. God bless them, the monsters looked kind of cool at moments and in others, not so much. Sometimes they looked like rejected costume designs for the Orcs from Lord Of the Rings. Other times they were scary as hell. It was too uneven and I think it was mostly because they showed too much of them in the light. The cliched glowing eyes were cool, though. I’m not a big fan of the sunken eyes and the ridged sockets thing that has become so popular in monster makeup due to The Walking Dead. The bat-snouts were a nice touch, however. And the action once we get to know what the threat is doesn’t really have much punch. It feels like every other horror film I’ve seen before. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t take it to another level. Dog Soldiers is a good example of effective ramping up. This one just sort of flatlined.
It's a mixed-bag with me on this one. Overall, it’s a good film with some cool ideas and really solid acting. The characters are sympathetic and worth cheering for, which is a big victory in and of itself these days. But the execution of some of the horror left a bit to be desired, and having the villains emote just didn’t do much for me. I found it kind of corny rather than scary. All in all, it’s well worth a watch or two, and it certainly isn’t a waste of time. So if you’re looking for something a bit different, you could do much worse than this little WWII horror thriller.