The Rig

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos




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The Rig (2010, dir: Peter Atencio; cast: William Forsythe, Stacey Hinnen, Sarah D'Laine, Marcus T. Paulk, Carmen Perez, Daniel Benson, Robert Zachar, Scott Martin)





The Rig is a weird mix of genres and styles. It can be described as Alien meets Soap Opera on a Reality TV show.

* On one level, it's a standard monster movie. A creature beneath the ocean floor is disturbed by oil drilling. It emerges from underground, climbs aboard the oil rig ... and the body count mounts!

As a monster movie, it's what you'd expect. A disparate group of oil rig workers, skulking about dimly-lit steel corridors, seeking a monster, which picks off the workers, one-by-one.

But there are some odd aspects to this film.

* Too many soap opera elements.

We have two brothers, one older, one younger. They bicker, because the younger one is lost in the older one's shadow. He leaves the oil rig, so he can forge his own identity on another rig.

Meanwhile, the rig's supervisor is father to one of the women on the rig. She has a lover, another oil rig worker. But Dad wants his daughter to do something more meaningful with her life than being an oil rig worker.

"I wanted something better for you!"
he laments.

"I'm not mom!"
she retorts.

"I know,"
he saddens.

They both gaze sadly at a photo of Mom.

Dad is extra hard on his daughter's lover. When the monster kills the lover's co-worker, Dad gives a long speech about responsibility to the lover.

"Don't you think you were too hard on him?"
the daughter later complains, during a lengthy father-daughter dialog.

Then the monster kills Dad. The daughter sees the blood in Dad's office. Tears well in her eyes. She later suffers flashbacks of their father-daughter times together.

Meanwhile, two other crew members are having an affair. When the monster kills the woman, her lover screams at the man who was with her. "You didn't protect her!" He then beats up this co-worker.


I guess it's nice that these characters are fleshed-out. But The Rig goes overboard with it. And it's not like the characters are all that unique. Their conflicts are clichéd, their dialog is trite -- the sort one finds in soap operas.

It feels weird, having all these soapish spats and arguments amid the creature attacks.

* Then there's the classical music. Very artsy. But a strange choice for a monster movie.

When a man is killed, his death is depicted in slow motion, to a violin accompaniment. Later, another man rushes through the hallways, to a classical piano score.

Monster movie scenes in slow motion, to classical music accompaniment? Was the filmmaker trying to create a horror-art film? But the monster is so stupid, the usual rubber-suited beast.

* Then there are the reality TV stylistics. So many shaky-cam shots, and jump-cut editing.

An on-shore boss tells the younger brother that he cannot return to the rig, on which his older brother might be dead. Then several jump-cuts of the younger brother outside the office, slamming his fists against equipment in frustration. The scene feels as if a reality TV show producer is following these people with his camera.

This occasional reality TV show camerawork and editing clashes with the occasional artsy classical music. Much like the soap opera pathos clashes with the rubber suit monster.

Just what kind of film is The Rig supposed to be? It's aesthetically all over the map, now this, now that.



Some other observations.

* It takes too long for the killings to start. Weakens the horror.

* We see very little of the monster. Weakens the horror.

* It's never explained why the monster drags off his victims, instead of leaving them dead on the spot. In Alien, it was to impregnate them with her young, but no reason is given in The Rig. And the victims are dragged off to somewhere seemingly arbitrary. No place special, really.

* Some elements are directly lifted from Alien. There's a "Sigourney Weaver moment" -- when the sole survivor woman presses herself fearfully against a metal wall -- the creature lurking on the other side!

* There are some nice surprises. A comedic/wimpy black guy warns one oil rig worker not to follow the noise, but to run the other way. Normally, good advice. (He's like the wise black maid who quit her job when the demon started manifesting itself in Mausoleum.) But then the black guy is jumped by the creature -- which was behind the noise. (Apparently, the noise wasn't the creature). Nice surprise.

The Rig is an okay horror film. Entertaining, but only just.


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