Film / Below

It's August 1943 and the USS Tiger Shark, operating in the Atlantic ocean right after the biggest U-Boat operation in the war, is asked by a recon Catalina hydroplane to pick up three survivors (a nurse and two patients) of a British hospital ship sunk by German submarine. But for some reason morale in the sub is low and it's going to go even lower as strange accidents start conspiring against the ship's continuing survival. May be something worst than mere bad luck... Maybe even a malediction is at work.

Below is a psychological horror movie with a cast of very familiar faces but not a single star, directed by David Twohy and written by Lucas Sussman and Darren Aronofsky in 2002.

The tropes Below...

  • Artistic License Ships: British merchant ships wouldn't fly the Union Jack, submarines were segregated during WWII and maximum periscope depth was 62 feet, for example.
    • In addition, this WWII era submarine was shown to have multiple decks, wide corridors, and much more interior space than any real-life submarine could have.
  • Awful Truth: The former captain was killed to hide the fact that it was the Tiger Shark the sub that sank the British hospital ship because of a failed periscope ID.
  • The Captain: Commander Brice. subverted in that Brice is actually the XO, in command after Winters was killed.
  • Geek: Of the kind that read Amazing Stories and Weird Tales.
  • Gilligan Cut: When volunteers are sought to conduct a repair operation outside the still-submerged sub, Stumbo emphatically says "Fuck no!" Cut to Stumbo in SCUBA gear with a put-upon look on his face, getting ready to enter the airlock...
  • Ghostly Goals: "We need... to turn... around..."
  • Haunted Technology: The record player in the ward room plays Benny Goodman at all the wrong times.
  • Jump Scare: One of the complaints about the movie was that it played too much by the numbers, both as a sub and a horror story.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Most of the crew are unaware of the Awful Truth.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: A saboteur? Plain bad luck? Ocean Madness? A ghost? A combination of the last three.
  • Mirror Scare: A very subtle and unnerving one, as a crewman notices his reflection is doing exactly what he is doing, only delayed by about half a second. until he turns his back on the reflection, and he senses that the reflection is still staring at him.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Each of the officers involved in the Awful Truth are shown to have blood on their hands at some point after the fact. Brice is shown washing the blood off his hands after killing the German POW. Loomis smashes his hand against a glass panel in a fit of rage and cuts it.
  • Twist Ending: Invoked by the crew of the Tiger Shark themselves. Hoag's explanation of all the unusual occurrences is that during the depth charge attack, their sub was actually sunk and they are all dead but just don't know it. Wally's response? "That's a good twist!"
  • Unusual Euphemism: Some of the Forties slang is pretty colourful: "skirt" and "bleeder" for a woman, for example.