Danny Huston and Matthew Goode head up an old-fashioned, deep sea thriller
Director Ron (Offender) Scalpello squeezes a modicum of tension from a nightmare scenario in Pressure, an old-fashioned B-movie thriller set in the depths of the Indian Ocean. You can imagine a pitch along the lines of, 'It’s Gravity at the bottom of the sea,' when the reality is more reminiscent of a yesteryear British submarine drama saluting the stiff-upper-lip resolve of a John Mills or a Jack Hawkins.
When a storm hits, four men are left trapped 670-feet below sea-level in an underwater diving bell with a limited supply of oxygen and very few options. Heroism, hysteria and self-sacrifice become the order of the day as the minutes tick down.
Clearly filmed with modest resources, Pressure looks convincing as it captures a sense of the vast, murky depths, with only a rare flash of light to illuminate the surrounding darkness. It is less successful at developing characters of any depth or distinction. Danny Huston is well cast as gruff, philosophical veteran Engel but Matthew Goode strains to carry off an American accent as the group’s leader Mitchell, whilst Hurst (co-writer Alan McKenna) is defined almost solely by his love of drink, and Jones (Joe Cole) by his youth.
Everything is drawn in the broadest of brushstrokes: a baby on the way for Jones, a haunting incident from Engel's past, etc. All of them have demons to fight and promises left unfulfilled, as we learn in flashbacks and other sequences that briefly break the tension of being stuck within the confines of the diving bell. In the end there’s just not enough here to make us care about the fate of these four men, and the claustrophobic setting and fairly predictable developments mean that it's not especially cinematic, and could work equally well as a radio or theatre play.
Selected release from Fri 21 Aug.