The Rift (1990) — Now you seaweed, now you don’t

“Here we got nothing but darkness and goosebumps!”

Justin’s rating: Ariel gives it two flicks of her tail

Justin’s review: LAST WEEK ON MUTANT REVIEWERS… It was about 1990, we were trapped underwater, and bad things were coming for us. Were we in The Abyss? Leviathan? Deep Star Six? It’s hard to say, what with the sonar being mucked up and our navigator’s brains dribbling out of his nose due to toxic spores. But our recon confirmed that now we were sailing into completely new — yet completely familiar — territory with The Rift.

It may shock and startle you to hear, but the Siren I has gone missing. Yes, that Siren I, the super-advanced submarine that was so confident in a sequel that it prepared for it in its name! And now that it’s gone missing, the Siren II is heading out with all of the machismo and murky underwater effects that a meagre budget can supply to find it.

But at least our budget can afford one recognizable star, so we got R. Lee Ermey as the captain to make people go, “I know that guy from that thing! You know, that thing? With the shouting?” Also on board is a bickering set of ex-lovers and enough unnecessary crew tension to make a trip to a dog pound seem like a serene experience. But at least the Siren II is surprisingly spacious, almost like someone’s rec room got some minor submarine theming before the cameras started rolling.

So what will they find down there some 45,000 feet below the surface? Well, icebergs for one. Ice doesn’t float, does it? Oh, and toxic seaweed that mutates people. And terrible model effects. But most of all, they uncover a conspiracy to make and test biological weapons. What better place to do that than in Neptune’s bathtub?

The killer kelp starts assimilating and/or mutating the crew and damaging the Siren II. Eventually, the sub becomes stranded itself in a strange underwater cavern with some freak of science lurking inside. They dicker about long enough for most of the crew to get slaughtered and one turncoat to be exposed. But hey, at least they have some big guns to make these aberrations of nature go ka-blooey!

The Rift has no end of faults, from its terrible submarine model to actors who can barely speak English to silly science to stuff just happening out of the blue on a regular basis. But can all of those flaws crash together and form a structure that supports the formation of a watchable movie? I think so. Sometimes these things cancel each other out, you know?

Didja notice?

  • If you want someone to wake up and help you, pour liquor on their heads.
  • “The world is one big laugh factory.”
  • When a submarine is lost, the Navy likes to drag in the designer to blame him and anyone else who wasn’t actually on board the boat at the time.
  • You can outfit a nuclear submarine with just eight crew members.
  • There are icebergs 22,000 feet under the ocean’s surface
  • Only a flimsy dive outfit is needed for the deepest dive ever by mankind
  • It’s always important for a movie to make a big deal that the captain is leaving the bridge, then show that he’s entering his quarters, only to immediately show him back on the bridge
  • I think they actually killed that fish
  • Yes, reverse the polarity of the ship’s cloaking device! Wait, we have a cloaking device? Is this a Klingon submarine?
  • The captain LOVES seeing people in his cabin
  • Skeets can’t swim
  • Yes, split up in the Death Caves. Good idea.
  • Someone done got their leg chomped off.
  • Maybe you should lock the door when you hijack a sub?
  • Smooch the corpse!

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