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August 24, 2015

Film + EntertainmentReview | by Francesco Cerniglia


Four deep-sea-saturation divers become stranded 700ft below the surface of the Indian Ocean after a killer storm hits the ship above them. With oxygen levels dropping, the air in their bodies compressed, re-surface uncertain and fear taking over, will these men fight to survive or will the deep dark abyss get the better of them? Filled with claustrophobic and suspenseful tension, the main question we ask ourselves, in the nightmarish setting of being trapped in the middle of nowhere at the bottom of the sea, is what will break first, their bodies or their minds?

Mitchell (Matthew Goode) has been put in charge of a last minute dive to repair an oil pipe on the ocean floor and asks to take the best welder on the ship, Engel (Danny Huston) who’s against the idea of a dive so late at night with a storm on the way. The other guys taken on the mission are Jones (Joe Cole) and Hurst (Alan McKenna). We follow the four men down into the depths of the Indian ocean, to complete a standard repair, and just as the job is done, disaster strikes, as the ship above them falls at the mercy of the killer storm that has just hit the mighty ocean.

The team soon realise the ship is taking damage and assume they will be re-surfaced as soon as the ship recovers from the storm. With communications down, they try to remain calm and conserve oxygen while they wait, but it isn’t long before Engel sees the wreckage of what used to be their ship floating along the bottom of the ocean floor. They are totally alone. Descending to the bottom of the sea may just have saved their lives or prolonged the inevitable. How will the team hold out 700ft below the surface?

Pressure is a very tense, very intermittent thriller with stand out performances from Matthew Goode (Self/Less) and Joe Cole (Offenders) who both overshadow their co-stars. The film, however, could be seen as a cheap re-imagining of the recent Jude Law thriller Black SeaBlack Sea does a better job with this premise, having a stronger script and a more exciting story. The simplicity and intimacy of Pressure is commendable but it does lack that thrilling excitement that you would expect from such a frightening concept.

Relatively unknown director Ron Scalpello (Offenders) does a brilliant job at creating a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere as well as simple yet stunning visuals, but it seems like history has repeated itself: just like his debut feature Offenders (2012), this film is beautifully shot and edited but is brought down by a poor script and in some cases, bland performances. Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), the big name actor of the film, plays the lead, however he disappoints with a weak performance and seems to show no emotional depth to a very important character.

"Pressure" production stills - Alice Pennefather 2013

With a very promising concept and frightening setting, this is not the tense pressure-filled thrill ride you might be expecting, but rather a beautiful film that struggles to reach its potential.

Pressure is in Empire cinemas from August 21st, available on digital download from August 24th and on DVD from August 31st

Charlie Quirke