The Creature Below (2017) – By Philip Smolen


Dr. Olive Crown (Anna Dawson) is a renowned marine biologist who specializes in exploring deep ocean trenches. She’s convinced inventor/mogul Dr. Fletcher (Zacharee Lee) to let her test his new deep diving suit. Olive dons the suit and takes it to a depth of 1500 feet. However, a strange malevolent creature tries to grab Olive and the boat crew barely gets her back on board. Olive’s encounter ruins Fletcher’s suit and he summarily fires her for what he perceives is incompetence. While the boat speeds home, Olive finds a strange oval-shaped egg jammed in the diving suit. She takes the egg home and brings it back to her laboratory without telling anyone. Several days later, a multi-tentacle creature emerges from the egg and begins a symbiotic relationship with Olive. Before long, Olive begins to feel protective about the hideous monster and decides that she won’t let anyone stop her from her taking care of it, even if it means sacrificing her own family.

“The Creature Below” is a low-budget indie British sci-fi/ horror hybrid that successfully captures the mood of an H.P. Lovecraft novella. Much like his best work, this flick slowly builds up a feeling of rot, decay and foreboding around the main characters. Evil is nurtured until it is strong enough to unleash itself on an unsuspecting world. The creeping terror sucks the will out of the good and uses them for its own vile purposes. Although Olive is initially interested in the creature for scientific purposes, she eventually falls under its spell and helps it thrive without realizing what the consequences will be.

There is a lot to like here. The British cast, ably led by Anna Dawson, brings a solid level of conviction to the movie. Stewart Sparke’s direction is imaginative and assured and Paul Butler’s script effectively hits all of the required horror points while bringing in nice touches of characterization for the main cast.

However, there were a few areas of the film that I thought could have been a little better. Dave S. Walker provides a good eerie score, but there are moments when it seems that he’s cribbing too much from Ennio Morricone’s score from John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982). And while the creature effects and CGI are adequate, they don’t stand out as they should and add that final cherry to what is essentially a nifty Lovcraftian concoction. And there is one giant plot hole that no one bothers to explain: just how can a creature conceived in the ocean at 1500 feet below sea level live on land at normal atmospheric pressure? Still, despite these qualms, “The Creature Below” is a solid sci-fi/horror hybrid that supplies the required thrills and chills. It’s also one of the best H. P. Lovecraft-inspired flicks to come around in a long time.

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