OCTOBER 5, 2010
I was pretty hopeful for The Rig due to its first few minutes. We got a nice tip of the hat to (the name “Weyland” appeared on a video screen) and the first scene was a POV shot of a submersible, which climaxed with it uncovering the monster. So far so good – acknowledging the AlienAlien influence and getting the monster out right away! But it’s all downhill from there, and becomes one of the lamest of its type that I’ve seen in quite some time.
Where do I begin? Let’s start with the camera, which is barely above the level of professional quality that you can get at Best Buy. And every review of the camera says “not good for low light shooting”. Well, the entire movie takes place in the bowels of an oil rig. Not a lot of lamps and windows down there. As a result, most of the action scenes are completely incoherent, because it’s too dark to see what’s going on. And it just looks like shit even in the above ground or well-lit “office” type scenes. Based on the image presented here, this is not a camera that should be used for anything beyond your kid’s dance recital. That or the film’s DP has no idea what he’s doing.
Another problem is that the monster sucks. Not only is it a generic Giger wannabe (well, Giger crossed with Greedo), but it’s never scary or threatening. The kill scenes often make no sense either – it just appears behind someone without any clear indication of how it got into the room (in one ridiculous instance, it appears to sneak up on a guy who is in a room with only one door – that he is facing). And every single kill is the same – someone goes “Aaah!”, we get a quick shot of a monster arm or something (it’s too dark to ever quite tell), and then someone throws some blood on the wall. I don’t think there’s ever a single moment in the entire movie where it appears to have any sort of purpose whatsoever. The Alien wanted to impregnate folks – what does this one want to accomplish? Just killing? If so, then it’s just a slasher movie, and thus you need to offer some cool kill scenes and/or some basic suspense/stalking.
The pacing is also awkward. The movie basically ends around the 75 minute mark, but then it just keeps going, bringing back two characters we’ve basically forgotten about, pulling a Scream 2 and miraculously resurrecting a character that should be dead (except unlike Dewey, no one will be overjoyed to see him survive), and killing the monster again in a less impressive way. And since the entire movie is just people running down corridors and occasionally dying while others look panicked from a control room or something, there’s no real structure or rising action to speak of. It could have ended 20 minutes sooner or two hours later – it just plods along until everyone that dies is dead, not when a “story” is resolved or anything.
However, its most horrendous crime is shamelessly ripping off Armageddon. We have a guy running an oil rig, who brought his daughter up on it after the mother left. So now she works there, and is secretly dating one of the guys on his crew. And this particular guy is a risk-taker, and doesn’t see eye to eye with his boss/potential father-in-law, who is livid when he finds out that they are seeing each other. Any of this sound familiar? I guess I should be happy that they saw Armageddon, but they do not acknowledge the swipes on their commentary, and there are just too many for it to be coincidental. The key difference is, since this is a low budget horror movie, the big name star (William Forsythe) dies in the first act instead of at the end of the movie. So yeah, false advertising as well – he’s top billed for MAYBE 10 minutes of screentime.
Unsurprisingly, the commentary is largely pointless. They spend an insane amount of time discussing the score and sound design, and not nearly enough time explaining why all of their kill scenes are exactly the same, or why they felt they had to copy plot points from the greatest asteroid movie of all time. Hilariously, they do reveal that the opening scene (the one I liked) was a reshoot after people complained that they never explained where the monster came from (which they only do TECHNICALLY – it came from the water), so I guess there’s a version of this movie that makes even less sense. They also discuss other reshoots, and having to do some of them without having all of the cast, which explains some of the awkward structure but not why it’s such a mess on a technical level as well. And yeah, the score is good for this sort of thing (it makes great use of Beethoven’s 7th), but why not have a bonus feature devoted to the composer and orchestra? Why bore us on a commentary? The making of is also worthless, as it’s just 8-9 minutes of random behind the scenes footage sans any interviews or narration (my guess is that they couldn’t get anyone to talk positively about the film with a straight face). It does offer the only clear shot of the monster on the entire disc so, so there’s something.
Not sure why Anchor Bay are the ones releasing this. The over-promoting of a barely there star, the misleading box cover (it shows a monster mouth that’s about the size of the rig itself), the crappy digital camerawork... this screams “Lionsgate”, in my opinion. And does this mean there will be re-releases of The Rig every year (they alluded to deleted scenes from the original version), like all the other Anchor Bay titles? Christ I hope not.
What say you?