[[quoteright:249:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/The_Abyss_Poster.JPG]]

'''''The Abyss''''' is a ScienceFiction film that was written and directed by Creator/JamesCameron. It stars Creator/EdHarris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Michael Biehn. The original musical score was composed by AlanSilvestri. It was released on August 9, 1989 in the United States.

The movie follows the efforts of a U.S. SEAL team, inserted into a civilian experimental underwater oil rig, to salvage a nuclear submarine that sank after an encounter with an unknown underwater presence. Before long, they find themselves trapped underwater in the Cayman Trough and their communications with the surface cut off while a hurricane rages above them. As tension mounts and tempers flare in the tight quarters, they discover that they are not alone in the Cayman Trough - something unknown and inhuman is watching them...

Might forever hold the record for most technically complex movie ever made. Cameron, crewmembers and major cast members had to become dive-certified, since some of the filming took place in a set built inside (and under the surface of) a flooded, partially-built nuclear reactor containment vessel. (Cameron spent so much time underwater that he regularly had to spend time in decompression chambers, viewing dailies while hanging upside down in the pressure tank.) Many of the FX shots were done with precisely constructed models and green screens, as CGI was wildly expensive and difficult back then (though it was used anyway for the water tentacles). With today's tech-infrastructure the movie could be made at a fraction of the cost with full CGI, but in 1989 the shots were often live footage combined with greenscreen models, matte photography, animatronics ''and'' CGI elements.

A novelization of this film was written by Creator/OrsonScottCard, based on the screenplay. Mastrantonio, Biehn, and Harris read the first two chapters, which were extrapolated by Card from the script, to prepare for their characters.

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!! This movie contains examples of:
* AbstractScale:
--> '''Hippie:''' Oh, man. I give this a Sphincter Rating of about 9.5!
* AlmostOutOfOxygen: Right after they [[spoiler:disarm the bomb]].
* AlwaysNight: Justified because most of the action takes place halfway down a submarine trench.
%% Anvilicious goes under YMMV.
* AwLookTheyReallyDoLoveEachOther: Bud and Lindsey Brigman, who are on the brink of divorce at the beginning but have a long-distance heart-to-heart while he's a mile down in the trench.
* AxCrazy: [[spoiler:Coffey]], who is suffering from dementia and paranoia from High Pressure Nervous Syndrome by about halfway through the movie.
* BackFromTheDead: Lindsey Brigman, who deliberately drowns so her husband can use the diving suit to get back. Hooray for the Mammalian Diving Reflex!
* TheBigBoard: The transparent variant, onboard the ''U.S.S. Montana''.
* BigNo: Bud, after Lindsey drowns. (She gets better).
* BioluminescenceIsCool
* BitchAlert: Lindsey, coming complete with a character introducing her as "the supreme bitch queen of the universe" and another character making a gagging gesture when Lindsey's put on the phone.
* BizarreAlienBiology: They manipulate water instead of solid materials.
* BrickJoke: Early on, Bud calls Lindsey a "cast-iron bitch". When he's doing his [[HeroicSacrifice suicide dive]], well...
--> '''Lindsey''': It's not easy being a cast-iron bitch. It takes discipline, and years of training... A lot of people don't appreciate that.
* CaliforniaDoubling: a set in South Carolina and a cave in Missouri covered for the Caribbean Sea.
* CassandraTruth: Lindsey spends the first half of the film trying to convince the crew that there's something not human in the trench. Nobody believes her until they see a giant [[strike:Russian]] water tentacle in front of their faces.
* ChekhovsGun: Bud's [[strike: engagement]] wedding ring, the explanation of High Pressure Nervous Syndrome, the liquid breathing system.
* ColdWar: the film is a TakeThat against people who wanted to keep it going.
* ConspiracyTheorist: Hippy
* CoolBoat: The ''Deep Core''.
* CPRCleanPrettyReliable: Well, kind of - it isn't clean, and not all that pretty either. It isn't even reliable: the novel explains that [[spoiler: the aliens are the ones who save Lindsey because of Bud's impassioned pleas for her to live]].
* CrowdPanic: When the giant tidal wave threatens the city, the people at the beach flee in terror.
* DefrostingIceQueen: Quite literally, as the poor lady winds up with a near-fatal case of self-induced hypothermia.
* DeusExMachina
* DirtyCommunists: The setup for the plot was for an American salvage team to recover a sunken American nuclear submarine before the Soviets did. The Director's Cut expands on the ColdWar subplot, with the salvage efforts being likened to a second Cuban Missile Crisis due to the wreck's close proximity to Cuba.
* DistressCall: The divers are responding to a crashed nuclear sub.
* DoNotCallMePaul: Bud's real first name is [[EmbarrassingFirstName Virgil]]. Inverted at the end when he allows himself to be called that. Lindsey also asks the SEALS not to call her Mrs. Brigman, prompting Coffey to snidely ask whether they should just call her "sir." However, this is inverted [[spoiler: at the end.]]
--> '''Lindsey:''' Hi, Brigman.
--> '''Bud:''' Hi, Mrs. Brigman.
* [[DramaticSpaceDrifting Dramatic Underwater Drifting]]: The wreckage of the ''U.S.S. Montana''.
* EightiesHair: Not quite so obvious on the crew, but the SEALS have some rather non-regulation hair going. In the extended version, the newscast reveals some spectacular 80s hair on the newscasters and crowds. A bit of TruthInTelevision, since SEALS are free to have non-regulation hairstyles(within reason) as long as it doesn't interfere with their operations, though most still keep their hair farily short.
* EmbarrassingFirstName: Bud Brigman's real first name is Virgil.
-->'''Hippie:''' ''Virgil''?
* EmptyQuiver: The setup is an attempt to decommission a [[DistressCall lost nuclear sub]]. You just know something bad's gonna happen with [[ChekhovsGun that nuke]] on board.
* ExplosiveOverclocking: Played straight and averted. The minisub (and its passenger) go crunch when they both fall too deep into the trench - meanwhile, liquid breathing allows Bud Brigman to dive far deeper than he otherwise might have been able to.
* AFatherToHisMen: Bud, to his crew
* FloatingWater: The water tentacle.
* {{Foreshadowing}}. "They used to call this 'The Hammer'." Think Catfish will use The Hammer to deck someone later at a key moment? [[SarcasmMode Nah.]]
* [[GetAHoldOfYourselfMan Get A Hold Of Yourself, Woman]]. Lindsey is a little high-strung, which Bud has to remind her.
-->'''Bud:''' Look, he's operating on his own. He's cut off from his chain of command, he's showing signs of pressure-induced psychosis and he's got a ''nuclear weapon''. So as a personal favor to me, will you try to put your tongue in neutral for a while?
* GiantWallOfWateryDoom: In the director's cut, aliens threaten to annihilate humanity with mile-high tidal waves rearing up on every coast. [[spoiler:Instead, it turns into a harmless demonstration of the aliens' power when they ''stop the waves'' just short of breaking over the coast.]] And when the Deep Core is damaged, one of these hits the barracks module, killing [[spoiler:Finler, [=McBride=], Perry, and Bendix]]. Also, one of these gushes through the nuclear sub at the beginning.
* HandWave: The only explanation the movie gives for why the crew isn't dead of decompression barotrauma at the end is that the aliens must have done something to prevent it. It is ''explicitly'' stated in the novelization, in addition to being the reason for [[spoiler:Bud Brigman actually being alive and functioning by the time he gets down to the nuke, and for Lindsey's recovery from drowning]].
* HarmlessFreezing: A realistic application of this trope.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Bud figured he wouldn't have enough oxygen to get back after defusing the bomb. He went anyway.]]
-->[[spoiler: '''Bud:''' ''(typed)'']] KNEW THIS WAS ONE WAY TICKET / BUT YOU KNEW I HAD TO COME.
** Lindsey [[spoiler: allows herself to drown so Bud can get both of them back to the rig]].
** The novelization clarifies that the NTI at the beginning that inadvertantly sinks the ''U.S.S. Montana'' had performed one while in space, destroying a nuclear-armed satellite at the cost of its life (the 'ship' was actually on autopilot). Unfortunately, the loss of the satellite and the submarine is [[NiceJobBreakingItHero what almost triggers the war in the first place.]]
* HintDropping: While Bud is diving down into the trench.
-->'''One Night:''' "Keep talking, Lindsey, let him hear your voice."
-->'''Lindsey:''' "Okay, Bud, your depth is 8900 feet, you're doing fine--"
-->'''One Night:''' "No, Lindsey. ''Talk'' to him."
* HowDareYouDieOnMe: When CPRCleanPrettyReliable goes from partial [[{{averted}} aversion]], to full-on enforced to the point of WorstAid, PleaseWakeUp meets ClusterFBomb.
-->'''Bud''': No! No, she has a strong heart! She wants to LIVE! C'mon, Linds! C'mon baby! Zap her again! Do it!... Do it!... Come on baby, come on baby!... Come on, breathe baby. Goddamn it, BREATHE! ''Goddamn it, you bitch, you never backed away from anything in your life! Now fight! Fight! Fight! Right now! Do it! '''FIGHT, GODDAMNED IT! FIGHT! FIGHT!''''' Fiiiiiiiiiiight!
* HumansAreBastards: Played with in the novel, as the Builders realize that their own practice of "remembering" and then destroying aberrant individuals is exactly the kind of behavior they have come to abhor in humans.
* IComeInPeace: The scene where Bud is confronted by the aliens behind a water curtain:
-->'''Bud Brigman:''' Howdy. Uh... How are you guys doin'?
* IDidWhatIHadToDo: Coffey's explanation to Bud as to why the SEALs stole the sub: they were JustFollowingOrders.
* IdiotBall: Let the mining team disconnect the cable connecting them to the surface so it neither yanks them off the cliff edge or snaps loose to fall on them? Nah! Take the Idiot Ball and head to the submarine to retrieve a nuclear weapon because evidently, [[DeusExNukina decomisioning a nuclear submarine is much more important]] [[TooDumbToLive than being alive to do it]]!
* InSpaceEveryoneCanSeeYourFace: The deep diving suits.
* ItWorksBetterWithBullets: As Lt. Coffey finds out when he tries to blow Bud's head off with his service pistol; Ensign Monk had removed the magazine. Presumably a SEAL should be able to tell the difference in weight between a loaded and unloaded weapon, but Coffey isn't all that mentally stable at that point.
* {{Kuudere}}: Lindsey Brigman, also with features of DeadpanSnarker. See also: BrickJoke.
--> So raise your hand if you think that was a Russian water tentacle.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Lindsey doesn't relate to people terribly well (this is pointed out more clearly in the novel, which shows how her brilliance derives from a better ability to relate to machines and engineering projects). Yet she's the one who's the most optimistic about the aliens' intentions and the most open to communicating with them.
* LateToTheTragedy: The more paranoid crew members believe the "visitors" are responsible for crashing the sub.
* MagicalDefibrillator: Justified in that the device in question is an early-80's model without a quick-look ECG function.
* [[MrExposition Ms. Exposition]]: Lindsay Brigman, who spends most of the early descent explaining the perils of prolonged deep water diving to Navy [=SEALs=] who already know all about it (and are able to finish her sentences on the topic); though her explanation is used both for the audience's sake and to demonstrate that Coffey knows ''exactly'' what is happening to him and chooses to ignore it (in his defense, if things had gone according to plan they would have been on the sub back to the surface before his condition deteriorated badly).
* MonumentalDamage: Subverted, In the special addition we see giant tidal waves about to wipe out the Golden Gate Bridge, Lady Liberty and a few others but then it stops.
* MythologyGag:
** In ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay'' (also written and directed by Creator/JamesCameron), the heroes pull into a gas station. The pumps have Benthic Petroleum logos on them -- the company that owns the undersea oil rig in ''TheAbyss''.
** A Benthic Petroleum tanker truck also appears in ''{{Film/Twister}}''.
* NearDeathClairvoyance: The CPR scene was meant to invoke an out-of-body experience.
* NippleAndDimed: The film is rated PG-13 even though Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's breasts are visible during the CPR scene. Possibly because the context of the scene is not at all sexual or erotic.
* NoOntologicalInertia: Lampshaded when the "aliens" [[spoiler:[[DeusExMachina return everyone to the surface with no pause for decompression]]]]. [-"We should be dead!"-]
* NotSoDifferent: Bizarrely, this is half the moral of the book, and it's the moral the ''aliens'' learn from it all. They realize that they're actually just as bad as the humans, and need to grow up just as much as the humans do.
* NukeEm: Paranoid delusions + Access to nukes = BAD THING.
* OceanMadness: High Pressure Nervous Syndrome. It turns Coffey into a ''[[SociopathicSoldier paranoid]] [[AxCrazy lunatic]]'', and another soldier is on his way, but he [[NoOntologicalInertia gets better as soon as they reach the surface]].
* OffTheScale: Bud's journey into the trench goes so deep, it exceeds the crew's ability to monitor his vital signs.
* OhCrap: The entire crew's reaction when the crane falls into the trench, and watching the tether slowly following - with the rig ''still attached''. And the reaction of Coffey, Lindsey, and Bud when [[spoiler: Coffey's mini-sub tumbles down the trench]]. Lindsey and Coffey even reflexively reach out to each other, a failed TakeMyHand moment that shows that, as far gone as Coffey is at that point, he's still human, and that Lindsey would help him if she could.
* OminousCrack: The final fate of [[spoiler:Coffey]].
* OneWayTrip: Bud's decision to go disarm the nuke. [[spoiler: [[YouHadUsWorriedThere Subverted]] in that the aliens let him live.]]
* OrganicTechnology: Subverted; the aliens seem to have based all their technology around water, and water is technically inorganic. But the aliens' aesthetic sense certainly went for this.
* PleaseDontLeaveMe: After they've reconciled, Lindsey pleads with Bud not to "leave [her] here all alone now" as he struggles against increasing water pressure during his dive to find the wayward nuke.
* [[CombatTentacles Pop In And Say Hi To The Neighbors Tentacles]]: The alien beings have an intuitive control over water, to the point where they use a fifty-foot tentacle of it as a remote probe. It even mimics people's faces.
* PrimalFear: The final act of the movie is chock full of it, and Bud goes through all of this, and we feel it and fear for him; hydrophobia aside, there's the deep dark abyss itself, the notion of falling further down away from the surface and human civilization, and the loneliness that he's experiencing with only Lindsey's voice on the radio to give him any comfort.
* PunyEarthlings: The unnamed aliens in the Trough can control water with remarkable precision, and appear to have psychic powers of a sort. See StarfishAliens below.
* RammingAlwaysWorks: Lindsey's mini-sub battle with Coffey, ending when she hits him hard enough and [[spoiler:shorts out his engine, causing him to plummet over the edge of the trench]].
* RealityIsUnrealistic: The scene where the rat is immersed in a breathable liquid isn't a special effect - the rat really is breathing liquid fluorocarbon emulsion. (Not in the UK release, however - see WhatHappenedToTheMouse below.) The same technology is used in modern medicine, to treat extremely premature babies whose lungs aren't developed enough to handle breathing air.
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: Cameron was going through a rather messy divorce while writing this movie. Many critics questioned how much this influenced the Brigman estrangement subplot.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: A rare non-verbal example is given to Bud by the aliens in a slide show of all of humanity's famous atrocities.
* ReCut: But not because of ExecutiveMeddling; James Cameron cut out almost a half-hour of footage himself because he felt at the time that it didn't work correctly; ironically, Cameron said that when he told the suits this, ''they'' were the ones who didn't like the change. There were also issues with the cut CGI that later technology allowed him to go back and fix, leading to the release of a "Special Edition".
* RedWireBlueWire / NoTimeToThink / WireDilemma: Because of Bud's chemical light source, both wires on the thermonuclear warhead look the same - the only difference is that cutting one will defuse the bomb, while cutting the other will make it go boom. Try not to shit yourself, Brigman - that diving suit's expensive. In the novelization, [[spoiler:the aliens explicitly give him the confidence to cut the correct wire.]] And even if they hadn't, in reality, nuclear weapons have lots of safeguards so they won't go off unless a very specific combination of events takes place. Not that this should cheer you up. But then again, fat lot of good the safeguards do when the device has been tampered with by people who know what all of them are and have been supplied with the means to bypass all of them. This was the backup plan they were sent with.
* RelationshipSalvagingDisaster: Bud and Lindsey are estranged at the start of the film. Getting caught in the deep sea rig together results in them falling in love again.
* RousseauWasRight: The aliens initially wanted to wipe out humanity since they thought HumansAreTheRealMonsters. However, they change their minds when they witness [[spoiler:Bud's HeroicSacrifice]].
* SassyBlackWoman: One Night
* SemperFi: [[RockPaperScissors Retired Marine beats Navy SEAL.]] [[ActorAllusion Not the last time]] [[Film/TheRock a Marine loyal to Ed Harris pwns a Navy SEAL]]...who is also played by Michael Biehn.
* SensorSuspense: In the opening scene a U.S. Navy submarine is tracking an unknown underwater object by sonar. The sonar blip is projected on a screen, showing the object maneuvering near the sub.
* ShownTheirWork: The writers somehow manage to work in obscure (but real) things like High Pressure Nervous Syndrome and the Mammalian Diving Reflex into the plot.
* SomeoneHasToDie: See HeroicSacrifice, above.
* SociopathicSoldier: At first, Coffey shows genuine remorse when he realizes his shortsightedness has killed most of the crew, not to mention one of his team. A few hours of HPNS later, things went FromBadToWorse -- to the point that Michael Biehn cutting rank chevrons on his shoulder with a K-Bar should be on the trope page.
** Coffey acts the part of this trope, but isn't really one - he's suffering from a condition that has severely compromised his mind (see the TragicVillain entry).
* SpaceElves: The alien beings are Type III.
* {{Space Suits Are SCUBA Gear}}: Inverted. Bud's deep diving suit resembles an armored space suit.
* SpaceWhaleAesop: In the Director's Cut, "Stop fighting or we'll annihilate you all with half-mile-high tsunami." Or, "Grow up and stop being [[HumansAreBastards Bastards]]. We did." Actually quite common in ColdWar science fiction, with ''Film/TheDayTheEarthStoodStill1951'' being the TropeCodifier. In the novelization, that's exactly what their announcement to the world was meant to convey.
-->'''Virgil''': (typing)''VIRGIL BRIGMAN BACK ON THE AIR/HAVE SOME NEW FRIENDS DOWN HERE/I GUESS THEYVE BEEN HERE AWHILE/THEYVE LEFT US ALONE BUT IT BOTHERS THEM TO SEE US HURTING EACH OTHER/GETTING OUT OF HAND LATELY/THEY SENT A MESSAGE/HOPE YOU GOT IT/THEY WANT US TO GROW UP A BIT AND PUT AWAY/CHILDISH THINGS/OF COURSE ITS JUST A SUGGESTION''
* StarfishAliens: The book goes into detail about this. They refer to themselves as the Builders of Memory. Most of what they want to do is collect knowledge and peacefully colonize other worlds' seas. They are shown to have a hybrid hive mind: Individuals have their own will, but their overmind is dominant. It doesn't hesitate to integrate a worker's memories and eliminate them if they get too independent, which becomes a key plot point during their internal debate about humanity. Their "machines" -- [=ROVs=], subs, and even their spacefaring Arks -- are all alive, basically domesticated animals. They can polymerize water on an atomic level, allowing them to put water-based "probes" into human brains, with enough precision to [[TheEmpath read their emotional states]] and even project emotions into people. They also are masters of [[CaptainObvious wet nanochemistry]], which allows them to do things such as stave-off pressure-induced illnesses and [[spoiler:repair Jammer's brain damage]]. They NEVER were under threat from [[spoiler:the nuke]], but let events play out to see what the humans would do. [[spoiler:They rewired Bud's brain to survive in the intense pressure and made him sure of his choice of which wire to cut.]] Even the [[spoiler:giant tsunami]] was generated simply by converting atmospheric heat to mechanical energy. What hammered their message home to humanity was when they [[spoiler:''stopped the waves in mid-break'', turning them into structures as stable as a "stone pyramid", before gently releasing them back out to sea. As the merest of side effects, all that heat removed from the ocean and air caused the hurricane menacing the ''Benthic Explorer'' to dissolve!]].
* SuperNotDrowningSkills: Averted.
* TragicVillain: It's easy to hate Coffey for what he's doing...until you remember that the man is under the influence of pressure-induced psychosis, meaning that even Coffey is barely aware of what he's doing.
** He's also much more sympathetic in the novel, which gives an account of his poverty-stricken childhood and explains his us-and-them mentality (his SEALS are everything to him).
* TrappedInContainment: When the rig is flooding.
* TwoferTokenMinority: One Night, the only African-American (and one of only two women) in the cast.
* UncannyValley: Invoked during some scenes depicting [[spoiler:Coffey's]] descent into madness. Specifically: Michael Biehn put a subtle hiss on "s" sounds to invoke the mental image of a snake, and a shot of him flicking his eyes about rapidly is run in reverse to make it seem even more menacing. Both are mentioned in the trivia track on the DVD.
* UnderwaterBase: The drilling rig.
* [[ViolentlyProtectiveGirlfriend Violently Protective Ex-Wife]]: They might be divorced, but trying to kill Bud is a good way to have Lindsey ''end'' you. Literally.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: What happened to that poor crane operator? [[spoiler: The book explicitly states that he died.]] Then you have the [[InfantImmortality pet rat]], who people will definitely worry about (including the British Board Of Film Classification - the shots of the rat in the breathing fluid were cut from the UK release).[[note]]She survived breathing the fluid with no ill effects, but died (of natural causes) some months later... just before the movie came out.[[/note]]
* WhatTheHellHero: You could easily throw a ''massive'' one of these at the StarfishAliens, as they decided it was the best way to send their peaceful message to humanity to [[SpaceWhaleAesop grow up and stop trying to kill each other]] by threatening to ''hurl worldwide giant tsunamis at them''. Perhaps justified by the fact that the humans, in their bickering, had tried to attack ''them''. Further justified with the tsunami being a demonstration of their power - it's easier to show that humanity would be ''totally'' outclassed if they tried to start something with the aliens. "We want to live in peace - bear in mind what we can do if you force us into defending ourselves..." Then again, this entire situation is happening because the aliens accidentally crashed a nuclear submarine and ''killed 159 people''... While trying to prevent a nuclear exchange.
* AWizardDidIt: The ending, more or less.
* WorstAid: Miraculous Bitchslap of Life.
** Counterbalanced by the rest of the crew giving up the resuscitation effort way the heck too early. Hypothermia victims aren't dead until they're ''warm'' and dead.
* YouAreNotAlone: Lindsey and the crew to Bud Brigman, during his deep suit dive.
* YouHadUsWorriedThere: Two of them in particular: Those pants-crapping tense seconds when Bud is cutting the wire, and when Bud resumes communication with the crew after meeting the aliens.
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