An initial word of warning about that poster. The creature that is on the loose in this film bears no resemblance to that set of jaws. The poster makes it look like some sort of leviathan is surfacing to swallow the rig whole, whereas what we actually have is a man in a black suit, filmed in snapshots and at quirky angles to make it look like, well, something other than a guy in a black suit. This is basement-budget film-making of the first order, with all of the problematic connotations that such a description conjures up. The cast are uniformly mediocre, including the headline-cast William Forsythe (Dick Tracy, The Waterdance, Out for Justice, The Rock), who chews the scenery for all its worth, but to no avail.
As with most (though admittedly not all) cheap-as-chips straight to DVD efforts, the script, special effects and direction all fall significantly short of the mark (wherever you might imagine or expect that mark to lie). There is an unexpected amount of viscera on display as the creature fairly bloodily works its way through the anonymous characters left on the rig, but with such poor characterisation, it is nigh-on impossible to summon up any sympathy or concern. Apathetic indifference is the order of the day here. There is a little of the Armageddon-style “father has daughter on the rig but wants more for her than settling down with the roughneck she loves” thing, but there isn’t even the level of emotional investment that Michael Bay managed in that blockbuster, which is a terrifying thought.
Much like Alien, there are lots of dark corners, an unknown creature picking off an ill-equipped crew and a gradual reveal of the creature (though this time around in all of its non-descript, fanged, black sliminess). When dawn comes and the storm breaks, it feels like the film is done, but there is a coda/denouement/epilogue/something that ties everything up with a bow, making a mess of the only things the film had going for it at the 80-minute mark (brevity, some measure of ambiguity, a less-obvious finale).
The cinematography is all pretty bland, with the film caught in close-up/mid-shot hell. The skeleton crew of the rig is clearly for no other reason that to enable the film-makers to get by with a skeleton cast, but no-one here really convinces with their basic lines, let alone any attempts at assaying something akin to emotion. The pacing is pretty good, but it feels like clutching at straws when that is the only positive comment one is able to make.
Of course this is film-making by numbers and no-one involved expected it to break any fundamentally new ground, but it just feels so lazy. With a time-worn premise, executed with none of the talent, intelligence or ingenuity of the other films to which this will so readily be negatively compared, the question remains, why bother? If you haven’t got a decent script, budget or cast, then give the whole thing a miss, or go with a different genre, where the shortcomings in those areas won’t be so noticeable. Not good.
You can rent it here, from LoveFilm, or you can win a copy here. The Rig is out on DVD on the 8th of August