The Thing Below

release year: 2004
genre: sci-fi/horror
viewing setting: home DVD, 12/14/05

synopsis: Some people with guns accompany a government agent to a remote oil rig to recover something, but they find that a strange monster is running loose.

impressions: If you just read the above synopsis, you'd think this might be a decent B-movie. Well, it was - to an extent. It's a whole lot better than many other movies of this type, but it got too ambitious. The monster was, at first, just a super-fast-growing octopus. Later in the movie, it suddenly had telepathic powers, and was able to create illusions of friends or loved ones to entice victims. And still later in the movie, it was revealed to be an ancient, stranded alien. But let's go back to the telepathy part. Note to writers of sci-fi/horror movies, especially this one: when you have already established that the monster can easily kill several humans in a matter of seconds, don't have that monster use its telepathy later on to lure victims into its clutches. It's pointless! This is like putting down a machine gun and using a rubber mallet to kill somebody: it's slower and far more inefficient. To put it another terms of sensible plots, it sucks. No monster that can impale people with its lightning-fast tentacles is going to waste time luring them toward it with illusions. One aspect of these illusions was the completely out-of-place scenes we got to see while the monster was using this power: a strip/pole dance, a wild West shootout, and a train wreck.

another opinion: One other major problem was that the exact nature of the monster was never defined; in the words of another reviewer: the monster itself is poorly defined. When we first see it, it's a small, snake-like tentacle. Later on, it's a whole bunch of tentacles. Much later, we see a character attacked by something resembling an insectoid octopus. After that, it's back to being a tentacle again. By the film's climax, it's a whole bunch of giant tentacles. So what exactly is this thing? An alien tentacle? A bunch of alien tentacles? Is it just an appendage of a larger creature or is it just a psychic alien tentacle? How does it keep multiplying and changing size throughout the movie?

odd trivia: Some of the action was supposed to take place on the aircraft carrier Intrepid - which has been a museum in New York harbor since 1982. More trivia: many of the actors in this movie had two first names, or I guess used their middle names in the credits.

something this movie has that no other movie has: A tiny octopus-like creature that has the strength to punch its tentacles through human bodies, yet can't break out of a glass container that cracks when dropped 5 feet.

acting: Actually, most of the actors and actresses did good jobs with roles that had decent personalities.

final word: Worth watching once, but far from perfect.

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