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Film / Deep Rising

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"Now what?"
John Finnegan

Deep Rising is a 1998 Action Horror film starring Treat Williams and Famke Janssen and directed by Stephen Sommers.

John Finnegan (Williams) is a for-hire boat captain who is contracted by a group of mercenaries led by Hanover (Wes Studi) to ferry them to a luxury cruise liner they intend to rob. However, when they arrive on board, they discover that something has killed all of the guests.

They eventually meet a pair of survivors — professional thief Trillian St. James (Janssen), the ship's captain, and Simon Canton (Anthony Heald), the ship's owner, who reveal that a malignant creature has infested the ship. What follows is a race against time as the mercenaries try to escape before the creature kills them all.

Deep Rising provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Canton accidentally axes Vivo in the head when he believes that it was the creature on the other side of the door. The trigger-happy mercenaries panic and accidentally gun down three unarmed passengers in response.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: T-Ray suggests the passengers thought the ship was sinking and abandoned it. Joey snarks at that, saying the passengers "obviously" jumped overboard miles from land rather than make use of the many lifeboats. Finnegan and Mamooli chuckle at that crack; T-Ray not at all.
    Joey: He's right. You're right! I can just see the last asshole in saying, "Shit, Gus, we forgot the lifeboats. I guess we're just gonna have to swim for it!"
  • Affably Evil: Finnegan and his boat crew, Trillion and the mercenaries are just Punch Clock Villains who are not completely unlikeable.
  • Alien Blood: The Octalus appears to bleed two colours, red and green. Its unclear if one is blood and the other is bile, or if it has a double circulatory system.
  • All There in the Manual: The creatures ( actually creature, singular) are called Octalus, based on the alternative European name for the film.
  • Artistic License Geography: Despite both it and the finished film being set in the South China Sea, the script identifies the oceanic trench at the beginning as the Sulu Basin. As its name implies, it is in the Sulu Sea, which is all the way on the other side of Palawan from the South China Sea.
  • Asshole Victim: Canton and the mercenaries. It even gets Lampshaded in Hanover's case.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: The monsters are actually the tentacles of a bigger beast.
  • Awesome by Analysis: Finnegan was able to figure out Canton's plan based on the torpedoes and Canton knowing Hanover (who lampshades this) by name without explanation.
  • Badass Longcoat: Hanover. He loses it halfway through.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Few of the protagonists sustain any obvious injuries over the course of the movie, with Canton's and Joey's leg wounds being the only noticeable exceptions. Who really invokes the trope, however, are Finnegan and Trillian. Not only does neither of the two get as much as a scratch on them — even their clothes remain completely untarnished regardless of being exposed to bloody water, explosions, fireballs and whatnot all over the place. Famke Janssen in particular ends the movie as impeccably dressed and as ridiculously gorgeous as she was in her first scene, hairdo and makeup included. Not that anyone's complaining.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Entirely justified by anyone who attempts it, given that dying to the seamonster is a slow and awful affair.
    • When Mason is grabbed by a sea monster that will slowly and painfully digest him alive, he detonates one of his explosives before it can eat him.
    • Subverted when Hanover is grabbed by one of the monsters. Joey hands him a weapon as an act of mercy, only for the former to start shooting at him. While Joey escapes, Hanover tries to take his own life and discovers he doesn't have any bullets left.
      Joey: [tossing Hanover a pistol] Here. Don't say I never did nothin' for ya.
      [Hanover takes the gun, shoots at Joey]
      Joey: YOU ASSHOLE!
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Simon Canton is responsible for hiring the mercenaries to sink the ship for him to collect the insurance. However, he is upstaged by the sea monsters that infest the ship. Despite the infestation, he still tries making a shot for the Big Bad title by using the others as bait so he can escape himself, and tries to kill Trillian and steal Finnegan's boat.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Trillian and her pilfered pistol show up just in time to save Finnegan from becoming sea monster sushi. Finnegan and his BFG later return the favor when Trillian is being threatened by Canton.
    • Joey is being curbstomped by Hanover's men for being a snoop when Finnegan appears out of nowhere and puts an end to the fun by firing three spears into the wall... right next to where Hanover is standing.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The monster is some sort of gargantuan octopus-like beast with dozens of tentacles, but its tentacles have their own teeth, mouths, and digestive systems and function almost autonomously, leading them to be mistaken as huge worms at first.
  • Blind Without 'Em: When Canton jumps onto the mercenaries' boat from the cruise ship in an attempt to escape, he breaks his leg and loses his glasses. This proves to be his undoing, as he finds the boat has been intentionally set on autopilot in a collision course with the cruise ship, and without his glasses he can't tell what buttons and gauges can set it back to manual.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The ending features the heroes now stranded on an Isle of Giant Horrors that seems to have more monstrous creatures they have to deal with. We cut to credits right before they come face to face with something that sounds like Godzilla.
    Finnegan: Now what?
  • Bottomless Magazines: Lampshaded. The writers, aware that the plot will require Bottomless Magazines, introduce the primary weapon of Hanover's pirates as an exotic "Chinese" minigun assault rifle that is auto-cooling, water-tight and has a thousand-round magazine. The small size is still preposterous, given that they dropping .308 casings (a thousand rounds of .308 weighs about 55 pounds and would fill a duffel bag) when they fire. Though in a strange adherence to established canon, they do occasionally run out of bullets at roughly the time that a five-barreled Gatling gun would burn through a thousand rounds while firing in bursts.
  • Brain Food: Vivo tries to make seasick T. Ray puke by claiming he'll be eating pigs' feet, monkey brains, and elephant eyeballs once their mission's over.
  • Break the Badass:
    • Some of the mercenaries, particularly and especially Mason and Mulligan, started to go through this as they never expected to face and combat a sea monster when they were hired for the job and eventually become distraught over the loss of their close comrades. Mason lampshades it with this quote:
      Mason: I don't mean to sound like a pussy, but this shit is startin' to freak me out, man!
    • Mulligan, overlapping with Break the Haughty due to Mulligan representing the sin Pride, begins to freak out when he realizes all his fellow mercenary friends are gone, the monster is cornering them and even sheds a tear in light of the situation.
    • Hanover as well, when he is slowly eaten by the creature and his facial expressions show him in visible pain without even screaming initially. After Joey gives him his handgun to perform a Mercy Kill (which he unfortunately wasted the last bullet on Joey in a Taking You with Me attempt only to miss) and he failed to commit quick painless suicide, Hanover can only scream finally in a mixture of horror, disbelief over the loss of bullets, and pain as he is eaten alive.
  • Break the Haughty: The remaining mercenaries go through this when they are terrorized by the monster.
  • Butt-Monkey: Joey. He lampshades it when Trillian treats him like crap for no reason after she's just met him.
  • The Can Kicked Him: One of the passengers tries to escape by hiding in the restroom. She ends up getting killed anyway when a tentacle comes up through the toilet.
  • Cannibal Larder: The heroes at one point come across the creature's feeding grounds in the bowels of the ship. There are hundreds of gory, skeletal remains strewn across the giant storage room. The haunting final screams of the people can be heard as the camera pans over them. Earlier in the film, some of the passengers' excreted corpses are found in a corridor at the bottom of the elevator.
  • Catchphrase: "Now what?"
  • Cat Scare: Non-cat example: one of the mercenaries is "ambushed" by a bundle of thick cables that drop from the damaged corridor ceiling.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Occurs numerous times.
    • Early on in the film, the mercenaries arm all of the torpedoes onboard Finnegan's boat. At the end, Finnegan rigs the boat so it will loop back around and ram into the Argonautica, destroying both ships.
    • One of the first shots of Finnegan focuses on a shotgun he has strapped to the back of his chair. He doesn't carry it for most of the movie, but straps it to his back later on, and uses it to shoot out the creature's eye when it captures him in the ballroom.
    • When the creatures first attack the Argonautica, a speedboat can be seen dropping off the ship into the water. Several minutes later, Finnegan's craft sees the speedboat too late and crashes through it, crippling their systems.
    • Near the end, a surfboard sent flying by the exploding charter boat, which is then used (offscreen) by Joey to swim to safety.
  • Colliding Criminal Conspiracies: There's a Gambit Pileup involving a thief, mercenaries on their way to a heist, a transport crew hired by those mercenaries willing to look the other way, a captured cruise ship run by a guy attempting to pull off an insurance scam, and a pack of sea monsters that are actually just the tentacles of a larger sea monster.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: When Finnegan finds the mercs beating up Joey and threatening to kill him, he points out that killing his mechanic means the boat won't be able to reach its maximum speed, costing them valuable time, then adds "Which actually works just fine for me, since, y'know, we're charging you by the hour."
  • Cool Boat: Finnegan's boat is a decommissioned WWII-vintage US Navy Elco PT boat. The cruise ship Argonautica looks like she'd be a wonderful choice for a luxury vacation. Too bad the travel agency didn't warn people about the mercs, the sabotage, and the ravenous sea monsters...
  • Cool Guns: The Minigun-Rifle-thing. Impossibly-huge magazine capacity, laser sight, flashlight, and the awesome rotating barrels. The guns were made by means of bolting the Gun Accessories (including a motorized "gatling" barrel) to a Calico M-950, in and of itself a cool (and rare!) gun in Real Life.
  • Combat Tentacles: Near the end, it turns out that the protagonists have been facing nothing but these until they encountered the head.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Simon Canton. The man was willing to hijack his own ship and sink it to keep himself financially afloat. That a sea monster ate everybody inside it before he arrived only eliminated the issue about having to kick the passengers out.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The creatures do not simply rip up and digest their victims. Instead they are swallowed up, have their liquids effectively drained away, and whatever's left of the body being spit back out (mostly bones and gore). Oh, and did we mention that the victims are still alive during this process?
  • Delicious Distraction: Hanover tries to turn Joey into one, wounding him and leaving him behind as bait to distract the pursuing tentacles.
  • Derelict Graveyard: In the opening scene of the film, the creatures are seen travelling through a deep sea ship graveyard, some of them hundreds of years old, all of which they presumably attacked, ate all the people on it, and sank the ships afterwards. There are even remains of whale skeletons besides the derelict ships.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Finnegan destroys one of the monster's eyes with his shotgun, allowing him and Trillian time to escape.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In his attempt to create the world's ultimate luxury liner, Canton ended up creating something that could never be run profitably. He tries to downplay this by saying that he "misjudged the market", but Joey offers the much simpler and more damning assessment that he doomed everyone on-board to a horrible death because he "screwed up the math".
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Subverted. The main characters were plotting a "Die Hard on a cruise ship" robbery, only to find that something beat them to the ship.
  • Dinner Deformation: Played for horror. A piece of the monster's tentacles is noticeably bulging before the heroes open fire on it. Then the half-digested, shrieking body of another character falls out.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Simon Canton, when he attempts to leave the survivors for dead.
    • Hanover, when he tries to sacrifice Joey to save himself. Joey escapes and Hanover himself is eaten.
  • Disappointed by the Motive:
    • Canton spent so much money on the boat that even at full capacity he'd be at a Net Loss. So he makes a big Insurance Fraud scheme involving mercenaries and torpedoes. Of course he couldn't have anticipated the monsters, but Joey is mad that this is what everyone is dying over.
      Joey: You mean we're all gonna die because you screwed up on the math!?
    • Even Captain Atherton is not very happy by this revelation as he furiously attacks Canton for this, right before the mercenaries told him to stop fighting.
      Atherton: You despicable lousy BASTARD!!! You sold us out to the bloody insurance!!
  • Disney Death: Finnegan comes back to the boat to see that Joey's gone, and he assumes that he was eaten by the creature. Later, when he's on the island with Trillian, Joey comes paddling onto shore on Finnegan's surfboard.
  • Disposable Woman: Leila, Finnegan's foul-mouthed yet sympathetic right hand as well as Joey's girlfriend, is the first protagonist to be killed by the creatures. Thankfully we're spared the more gruesome details of her demise that many of the other characters get. Her death still manages to deliver quite the punch the farther the story progresses, simply by how little recognition her gruesome fate gets from her crew mates. Aside from a gloomy "I don't think she made it" and a single tear shed by her boyfriend, it's like she never even existed after the first twenty minutes into the movie.
  • Distress Call: Averted and that's part of the problem. To ensure the mercenaries can pull off their end of the deal, Canton disabled ship communications. This prevents the crew from sending a distress call and reporting their location, as tentacles begin swarming. By the time the other protagonists arrive, there's no way to undo Canton's sabotage. With no way to call for help, it'll be at least a day before the authorities even begin looking for the Argonautica.
  • Doomed Hurt Guy: Similar to Acres in The Poseidon Adventure, poor Atherton spends half his screentime limping from a pretty bad leg injury. Unlike many examples of this trope, Atherton still manages to keep up with the group, but past a certain point it's obvious he's The Load and a goner. Swimming was probably out of the question for him with his bad leg, so he was never going to make it through the underwater portion (another Poseidon Shout-Out), so he gets killed right before the group gets to that part.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Despite Canton technically being the brains behind the operation, Hanover is mostly in charge. Canton doesn't bark any orders at the mercenaries. Justified as Canton does not have as much combat and survival experience unlike the mercenaries.
  • *Drool* Hello: As the remaining group of survivors discuss what to do next, one of the monsters drips slime/drool onto Joey's shoulder. The mercs open fire on the monster, causing it to split and spill out the partially digested (but still alive) remains of Billy.
  • Dropped Glasses: When Canton leaps onto the mercenaries' ship at the end in an attempt to escape, he breaks his leg and loses his glasses. This proves to be his undoing when he finds the vessel has been locked on autopilot to ram the cruise ship and blow up, and without his glasses, he can't tell which of the buttons deactivates autopilot.
  • Dwindling Party: As to be expected, characters get picked off one by one. By the end, only three characters are alive, and even then, the odds of their continued survival are not good.
  • Ear Worm: Joey gets the elevator music ("The Girl from Ipanema") stuck in his head.
  • Eaten Alive: Everyone the creatures get their teeth into, except Mason, who blows himself up, and possibly Captain Atherton and that one female passenger in the restroom, both of whom were yanked through such narrow gaps that crush injuries probably killed them first.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: Lampshaded.
  • Empty Elevator: The mercenaries are searching through the abandoned cruise ship looking for any passengers or crew members, but none can be found. Then the elevator activates, and they can see it moving to their floor. They keep their weapons aimed at the door, but it's empty. Except for the blood-covered walls inside the elevator, that is.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Our heroes wash up on an island, only to discover another giant monster lives there.
  • Enemy Mine: Finnegan and Hanover form a very reluctant alliance in a bid to survive the common threat the creature poses to both of them.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: When the Dwindling Party reaches the kitchen, Mulligan wants to hole up there for a last stand as he thinks that it's the only place on the ship where they'll be safe from the man-eating giant worms. This results in a Mexican Standoff when Finnegan and Hanover disagree, but before it can get violent Mulligan suddenly notices that everyone facing him has an Oh, Crap! expression...
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Canton wanted to sink the cruise liner so he could reap the insurance money, but when Finnegan accuses him of trying to kill all the passengers Canton takes offense. He claims that he's just a crook, not a savage; he planned for all of them to live, as they would be safely transported off the ship before anyone could drown. Ultimately subverted when Canton decides it would be better for everyone not named Canton to "go down with the ship."
    • Played straight with the Punch-Clock Villain mercenaries, who are disgusted with Canton's plan, the motive behind it and how he left them in the dark about it that results in the deaths of their comrades. In addition, they themselves are horrified by the carnage left by the creature's rampage and devastated over the loss of their comrades, who from what we seen so far are best buds to one another aside from their ruthlessness.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Finnegan is the first to note how Canton's scam effectively killed innocent passengers.
    • Captain Atheron is also disturbed by the fact Canton Would Hit a Girl, despite the fact that said girl stole his wallet and tried to rob from the vault.
  • Eye Scream: Finnegan shoots out one of the creature's eyes on the boat.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: When Billy gets expelled from the tentacle that swallowed him, he looks intact from the right, but then raises a half-melted hand and turns, revealing that the left side of his head has been dissolved all the way through his skull.
  • A Father to His Men: Hanover appears to be this towards his fellow mercenaries, especially after learning about and witnessing their deaths.
  • Finally Found the Body: When the mercenaries board the cruise ship, they're utterly bewildered to find the inside in ruin and everyone gone; Joey darkly jokes that perhaps everyone simultaneously jumped overboard and collectively forgot about the lifeboats. They eventually find the fate of the passengers and crew in the bow of the ship, all reduced to bloody skeletons after being digested and regurgitated by the monsters.
  • Flower Mouth: The gigantic octopoid monster has tentacles that function like this, being closed until they detect prey and split open like a blooming flower to reveal an additional two-jawed inner mouth.
  • Fold-Spindle Mutilation: Captain Atherton dies when he's yanked through a gap in a catwalk. A very small gap. Also the fate of the woman who hides in the restroom; she gets pulled down through the toilet, resulting in a very big splash of blood and gore. The monster, some sort of giant octopus, is very agile; at one point Trillian notices one of the tentacles (which can swallow a person whole) slithering through a pipe barely two feet wide.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted, when already an hour has gone past after her death, Finnegan and especially Joey mourn Leila death's with tears.
  • Foreshadowing: There are several allusions to the revelation that the creatures are actually the tentacles of a humongous octopoid monster, most notably Finnegan's anecdote about the octopus and the bottle.
  • From Bad to Worse: Finnegan, Joey, Trillian, and Hanover find the feeding ground and are horrified by the messy sight. Then the tentacles rip into the hull, letting water come rushing in.
  • Funny Background Event: In the background, and mostly sound-only, Atherton snaps and begins loudly berating Canton for being a "greedy bastard" and getting them all in the predicament they're now stuck in, with Mason trying to keep him from physically attacking the other man. Meanwhile, the focus during this scene is Trillian surreptitiously tucking a discarded pistol into her pants and Finnegan checking her out from the rear while she does this.
  • Ghost Ship: Subverted in that the main characters are seeking out the cruise liner intentionally. It also turns out that there are at least a handful of survivors on the ship, although most do not last long.
  • Gorn: This is a very nasty movie with special effects that spare little to the imagination of what being eaten and digested is like. Stand out examples include the woman being violently pulled into a toilet, the monster spitting up a half-melted but still alive victim, and coming across the room with hundreds of regurgitated skeletons piled together.
  • The Great Repair: The boat that was released during the initial monster attack on the cruise smashes Finnegan's ship, damaging it severely and leaving its engines nearly useless, so the crew enters the ship to search for spare parts. The situation becomes too dangerous for them to get the parts, so Finnegan rigs the boat to ram the cruise and set off the torpedoes it has on board.
  • Hate Sink: Simon Canton. The monsters are just predators that live to consume, and most of the mercenaries have some redeeming qualities such as determination, being mostly Punch-Clock Villain-type characters, caring for each other except those not in their personal group like Finnegan, their unique wise-cracking characterizations and being badasses. Canton however is only selfish, cowardly, and greedy. He's not so bad at first (having clearly established with Finnegan that he had planned for everyone aboard the boat to be safely evacuated), but he eventually tries to leave the other survivors for dead, then tries to kill Trillian, shrugs off the all the passengers' deaths because he can still scam the insurance agency if the ship sinks, and tries to steal Finnegan's boat. He meets a deliciously Karmic Death.
  • Heartbroken Badass: After everything he's been through, Finnegan, when it looks like Joey has been dragged off, simply clutches Joey's hat and sits there quietly.
  • Hell Is That Noise: After Trillian steps outside and reveals she swiped the captain's keycard, she and the audience hear something disturbing far out in the dark. It was apparently the main menace.
  • Hired Guns: Hanover's team.
  • Hollywood Hacking: As with a lot of other films from the era, computer viruses are depicted as something able to physically destroy hardware, with Canton explaining that they can't send a distress signal because the virus he used burned out all the systems on-board. In reality it probably would have been impossible to get the ship up and running again in the circumstances, but because the people with the required technical know-how would likely have already become monster chow.
  • Hope Spot: At the end, the few survivors regroup on a nearby island they spotted earlier while on the ship. Unfortunately, they have little time to be grateful about their survival before they hear something huge roar and crash its way through the jungle towards them. The camera then zooms out to show the island they're on has multiple erupting volcanoes on top of that.
  • Hypocrite: Finnegan calls out Canton for endangering his passengers/crew in order to pull off a lucrative insurance scam. Yet, he willingly endangers his own crew by turning a blind eye to his clients' motives and not asking so much as a single question before accepting a job as long as he gets paid. Not to mention he's the one who brought the mercs to the cruise ship in the first place. Canton quickly calls him back on this.
  • I Call It "Vera": Played with in that, while none of the mercenaries name their many, many weapons, the twin engines of Finnegan's charter boat are called "Jezebel" and "Hercules".
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Finnegan hits an elevator door button from about 15 metres with a shotgun, one handed, while driving a jet ski. Twice.
  • Improbable Taxonomy Skills: And how, Canton! Just from brief examinations, he theorizes that the creatures they're fighting are gargantuan priapulids, a family of carnivorous marine worms commonly nicknamed "penis worms". More glaringly, the taxonomic group he claims they belong to is actually extinct in Real Life, being known only from fragmentary fossils. Yet he somehow describes its behavior, which would be pretty darn improbable even from a paleontologist... let alone, a cruise ship designer like Canton. So it is probably no great surprise that he turns out to be completely wrong in his assumptions. The "creatures" are actually the tentacles belonging to a gigantic cephalopod-type creature. In fairness, the Ottoia do have living relatives who are all but unchanged from the prehistoric model, so extrapolating their behavior isn't a huge stretch... but he still would have been better naming one of the still-living taxonomies. And even then, he loses points by claiming there are some species of priapulid worm that eat sharks; the largest known priapulid worm species today is only 39 centimeters long.
  • Inside Job: Finnigan eventually figures out that Hanover was working with someone on the cruise liner for the planned heist that never materialized. That person turns out to be Canton (the ship's owner), who was responsible for sabotaging the ship's systems before the monster happened to show up. His motive was to sink the ship so he could reap the insurance money since they were actually operating at a loss. This revelation infuriates the Captain, since it's entirely Canton's fault that they couldn't get out a distress signal.
  • Insurance Fraud: Business mogul Simon Canton wanted to sink the cruise liner he built to cater exclusively to the mega-rich because despite all the money he poured into the project, he was still operating at a net loss and only the insurance money could save him from going bankrupt. His plan involved faking a take-over by pirates, then escorting the passengers to the lifeboats and having the pirates blow up the ship with a torpedo. Then of all things a giant octopus monster shows up and spoils his plan by eating everyone.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Trillian steals the captain's ID and snarks to herself about its lousy photo. Then she's caught by Canton and some crewmen, and he snarks about the lousy mugshot on the fax his security people had received about her.
    • Joey angrily complains about how they're going to die because Canton "screwed up on the math". Later, as Canton outlines how the monsters are relatively small and harmless at shallow depths, and big enough to eat a shark at moderate depths, he points out exactly how deep the sea beneath them is, before turning to Joey and saying "you do the math".
  • Isle of Giant Horrors: At the end, the remaining survivors have escaped to a beautiful sunlit island, only to hear a terrifying monster roar. The camera pulls back to reveal the island is host to an erupting volcano and something tearing down trees as it makes a beeline for the beach where the protagonists are. Cut to credits as the hero asks with exasperation, "NOW what?"
  • It Can Think:
    • When Mulligan suggests holing up in the kitchen, Finnegan relates how he once saw an octopus uncork a bottle to get a fish that had been placed inside.
    • At one point late in the film the monsters start herding the remaining humans towards their feeding area. Makes some sense, as the "monsters" are tentacles of the same creature, and are moving the humans toward the open space where there's the most room to maneuver.
    • Later, when Finnegan comes face to face with the creature, it doesn't kill him straight away, but inquisitively brings him up to its head to inspect him. Finnegan uses the opportunity to shoot one of its eyes out.
  • It's Personal: Joey and Finnegan (especially Joey) after Leila's death. And later, Finnegan when he thinks that Joey has been killed.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Finnegan is Only in It for the Money, but he cares about his friends.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk:
    • Hanover initially started out as distrusting of Finnegan and his crew, but then started to gradually drop his hostility and shows a level of begrudging respect towards Finnegan when onboard the infested ship. Then when the flooding hits, Hanover, when paired with Joey, pulls a Dirty Coward move by shooting Joey in the leg to feed to the creature and then tried to kill Joey when he himself is slowly eaten.
    • Canton is a corrupt asshole, but even he is horrified at the carnage the monsters left behind and insists to Finnegan that he was going to make the passengers evacuate before sinking the ship. And then he admits that the monster killing everybody on board simplified the scam operation somewhat, and he tries to leave everybody to die.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: At first, Canton's plan was to destroy the ship as an insurance scam, but to make it so all of the passengers live. Later though, he uses the others as bait so he can escape himself, and tries to kill Trillian and steal Finnegan's boat. Fortunately, though, he meets his Karmic Death in the end.
  • Karmic Death:
    • At the end of the movie, Simon Canton attempts to get away on Finnegan's boat without the others after trying to kill them. When he jumps onto the boat from the cruise ship, he breaks a leg. Unbeknownst to him, the torpedo filled boat has been rigged to run into the cruise ship in order to explode and kill the creature. When Canton realizes this, it's too late and the last thing he sees before dying is Finnegan's computer screen which reads "Game Over".
    • Hanover's death mentioned in Better to Die than Be Killed. He could've spared himself the horrific fate of being a sea monster's meal, but rather than accept Joey's gun as an offer of mercy, he tries to shoot him out of spite. Of course, it was the last bullet, so cue the scream.
  • Kill It with Fire: The monster is finally killed when the mercenaries' ship crashes into the Argonautica, blowing up both boats and the monster with it.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Things get serious when the monster attacks.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: The monster is a humongous deep-sea octopoid with possibly hundreds of man-eating tentacles, and is large enough to just fit into the ocean liner's main hall.
  • Lady in Red: This is Trillian's outfit for the first half of the movie, as she was a thief and conman on the cruise liner who used it to distract the captain so she could steal his keycard as part of her scheme.
  • Late to the Tragedy: The mercenaries were planning to rob the cruise ship and then sink it, but when they arrive the ship is deserted. All of the passengers were eaten while they were en route by a far more dangerous sea monster that is now infesting the ship.
  • Lamprey Mouth: The monster, a giant cephalopod, has a main mouth that is just a giant opening littered with numerous backwards-facing teeth.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Hanover shoots Joey in the leg while the two are being chased by the monsters so they'll eat Joey first and give him time to escape. Not only does Joey survive, Hanover ends up being caught by one of the tentacles off-screen. Joey walks in on Hanover in the middle of being swallowed and gives him a pistol so he can Mercy Kill himself before being digested. Hanover decides to use the gun to shoot Joey first; not only does he miss, but it turns out that was the last bullet and he just wasted it.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Canton escalates to this. He knows he'll face serious repercussions for his attempted scam being part of why so many people died, so he tries to save himself and leave those who know what he did behind to die.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: After some casualties and no chance of rescue anytime soon, the Dwindling Party makes it to the kitchen, which is supposed to be airtight. Mulligan suggests holing up there with the food and water to wait for rescue. Finnegan rejects that idea; he knows continuing trying to reach his boat is dangerous, but that it's still preferable to staying in a single place that the creatures know they're in. Trillian also adds the ship is sinking.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!:
    • Deconstructed. After finding the ship, the group splits up. Leila is left on Finnegan's boat to do some repair work, with Billy watching her. That makes some sense, but once aboard the ship and finding the place trashed and bloody, Hanover splits up the group again. He leads most of the team in trying to find the crew, while T-Ray and Mamooli escort Finnegan and Joey below decks to find repair parts. It goes badly to varying degrees for everyone.
    • Later justified when the Dwindling Party finds the feeding ground and has to flee from a hull breach. With water rushing in, everyone just runs wherever they can, so they get split up, with Finnegan and Trillian in one spot and Joey and Hanover elsewhere. Canton also deliberately split off prior to this in the hopes of saving himself.
  • The Load: Joey, for most of the film. Becomes particularly bad when he and Hanover are separated from Finnegan and Trillian and he manages to lose both their guns and throw one of their two grenades without having pulled the pin. Justified in that he's the ship's mechanic/technician in a group composed mostly of hardened mercenaries, and he was only brought aboard to find the parts to fix their ship.
  • Locked in a Freezer: The Argonautica security locks Trillian in the ship's cold pantry when she's caught stealing. In an inversion of the norm for this trope, this protects her from death because its insulating walls keep the tentacles from finding her.
  • Made of Explodium: The cruise ship doesn't just burn and sink, it goes up like a Roman Candle, taking the sea monster — head and all — with it.
  • Man on Fire: Averted. Canton threatens Trillian with a flare gun, saying it "might not be quick, but it'll be interesting." Fortunately for her, Finnegan shows up before this can be tested.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": In the kitchen scene every character in the room has an unspoken "holy fuck!" etched across their face when they see one of the monsters rise up behind an oblivious Mulligan.
  • Mexican Standoff:
    • Finnegan has one with the mercenaries when he stops them from beating Joey to pulp and later comments on the experience taking a year off of his life.
    • Halfway through, Hanover and Mulligan get into one when debating bout whether or not to get off the ship or hole up and wait to be rescued.
  • Moe Greene Special: Finnegan gets lifted up to the monster's eye so it can examine him, and he blasts the eye to bits with his shotgun.
  • Mole in Charge: Canton, who disabled the communications on the cruise ship for the mercenaries to do their job that he hired them for.
  • Mr. Exposition: Canton with his Ottoia speech (see Improbable Taxonomy Skills and Smart Ball):
    Canton: I'm beginning to fear that our friends here may be some kind of strange offshoot of the Archaea Ottoia family...
  • Ms. Fanservice: The entire female cast consists of Leila, who's Finnegan's beautiful Korean XO that gets a half-off-screen topless scene early on, and Trillian, who's played by gorgeous Famke Janssen, wears a lovely, deeply cut red dress in the beginning and an only marginally less fanservice-y getup later on. Neither of them ever suffers even the slightest injury, or gets dirty for that matter. Leila does die, but she does it offscreen.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: The opening scene, as something big swims past many sunken ships and whale bones.
  • No Holds Barred Beat Down: When Vivo catches Joey snooping around their cargo, he and Hanover's other men proceed to curb stomp the poor guy. Only Finnegan's timely intervention keeps Joey from being killed.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Ironically, the protagonists are all criminals of some kind, while the main antagonist is a non-sapient Sea Monster that has no motivation beyond hunting its prey. Although it is incredibly persistent in hunting such a meagre number of remaining humans and doesn't even bother killing its victims before ingesting them.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Trillian gets out of her red dress and into some army clothes in front of the mercenaries, and Canton, albeit she remains off-camera the whole time. None of the guys at any point glance at her while she's changing because they're too busy arguing. Although Finnegan does make a blink-and-you'll-miss-it comment on her "assets" when she slips a pistol into her back pocket.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Employed for much of the first half, as the tentacles stay under water, bang against closed hatches, or move through pipes and the walls. Victims are also grabbed suddenly. We get our first glimpse shortly before T-Ray is killed, and then get a full reveal after Joey notices slime dripping onto his shoulder and looks up.
  • Not Quite Dead: Towards the end, Finnegan finds the windshield smashed open, Joey missing, and monster slime in the boat, so he assumes the worst. However, in the final scene, Joey turns up alive and says he barely escaped.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Joey gives a smooth "Oh, shit..." when finding out that the basement is full of torpedoes. "Enough to sink a damn aircraft carrier".
    • Canton, when he realizes the boat he's on is about to self-destruct.
    • The reveal that it's not a group of creatures, but one giant entity understandably leaves Finnegan and Trillian realizing just how much bigger their problems have gotten.
    • The ending definitely counts. It's the only natural reaction that can be to finding out you're marooned on an island full of monsters.
    • When Trillian wakes up in the pantry and wonders what happened, she hears something moving around and sees one of the pipes shaking. She realizes she needs to leave ASAP.
  • One-Liner:
    • "What are you looking at?"
    • Shortly after getting the first glimpse of the monster:
      Trillian: What are those things?
      Finnegan: Real unfriendly.
  • Only in It for the Money: The mercenaries are obviously being paid handsomely to help Canton go through with his little scheme. And then there's Finnegan's motto:
    Finnegan: If the cash is there, we do not care.
  • Outside-Context Problem: A bunch of mercenaries are hired by a cruise ship captain for an inside job; pretend to be pirates, take everyone "hostage", blow up the now-empty ship, collect the insurance money. Nobody expected a Sea Monster to attack the ship before the mercenaries arrived.
  • Outrun the Fireball: On a jet ski actually.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: The floating body that scares Leila while she's using the blowtorch.
  • Phlegmings: Thick sticky globs of them, no less.
  • Picky People Eater: The creatures are interested only in human bodily fluids. They leave their victims as a pile of bone and digested guts.
  • Plausible Deniability: Finnegan runs his business on this. He doesn't ask for details; he's just paid for transport.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: Trillian is outed as a thief by the Argonautica crew and stuck inside a locked pantry since the normal brig was still under construction. When things go sideways, she's able to rig the electric door to open in such an easy manner that suggests she could have left whenever she felt like it. Presumably, she didn't because she's already been exposed and is on a ship with nowhere to run.
  • Plot Armor: Obviously, the three surviving protagonists Finnegan, Trillian, and Joey.
    • For Finnegan, a prime example is when the monster wastes its own time picking him up to examine him as opposed to other victims who are attacked and devoured immediately.
    • Trillian, who has little to no knowledge in gun defense/combat, escapes and/or gets rescued at the right time.
    • Last but not least, Joey, who is probably the most egregious offender here. Just like Trillian, he has little to no knowledge in gun defense/combat, but always end up being lucky. He is the second last person to jump into the water so the monster ends up chasing after and attacking the last person (Mason). He is shot in the leg by Hanover to act as bait for the monster, but escapes in time with a limp. A short while later, he avoids getting shot by a dying Hanover who is holding a gun. And finally, offscreen he is attacked by the monster but he jumps into water to safety, miraculously avoids the explosive range of the torpedoes, and floats to shore to safety, all the while with a limp due to that injured leg...
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Mamooli makes it very clear that he'd like to rape Leila and asks to be her guard instead of Billy, almost getting into a fight with her boyfriend Joey over it. The other mercenaries tell him to "behave yourself", but only because they're there to do a job.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • A crewman detects something very large approaching the ship. Canton suggests it's a pod of whales, but the crewman is doubtful because of the speed.
    • Finnegan immediately notices when Canton uses Hanover's name. He deduces that Canton was the inside connection for this job.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: If it weren't the fact that they're thieving and Ruthless Modern Pirates, if not brash and boisterous, the mercenaries would count as they are only concerned with completely their mission to force out the passengers to make way to sink the cruise liner. While being hardened, trigger-happy and somewhat crooked, they are not sadists or completely unlikable (unlike Canton). Finnegan and his boat crew would also count (as quoted by Finnegan about his line of work, "If the cash is there, we do not care"), perhaps even more so than the mercenaries, with the Punch Clock side outweighing the Villain side. Also Trillian is a thief, but appears to be a affable career thief who is not much of scumbag like Canton.
  • Pushed at the Monster: Hanover and Joey are fleeing from the tentacle monsters, which are gaining on them. Joey yells that they have to slow them down; Hanover shouts back that they only way to do that is to feed them. While Joey is trying to figure out what the hell to feed them, Hanover shoots him in the leg. Despite this, he manages to escape and in fact survives to the end of the movie, while Hanover gets eaten.
  • Race Against the Clock: As if man-eating tentacle monsters aren't bad enough, the ship is sinking.
  • Recoil Boost: Happens accidentally to Trillian when she's shooting one of the mercs' machine guns at worm monsters. The recoil pushes her over backwards into the flooded compartment that everyone needs to escape through, anyway, effectively giving her a head start.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: The mercenaries.
  • Sacrificial Lion: The mercenaries, who were all killed by the main monster one by one.
  • Scary Black Man: Two of the mercenaries, Vivo and Mason.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Joey, especially when he discovers that one of the tentacle monsters is right above his head and he never knew it.
  • Sensor Suspense: One of the Argonautica's bridge crew counts off the rapidly-decreasing distance between the mysterious whatever-it-is that's coming towards the ship.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: The villainous mercenary group seems to be made up of this: Vivo is always talking about food (Gluttony), T. Ray threatens with violence all the time (Wrath), Mamooli talks about his desire to have sex with women from every country (Lust), Mulligan says that the group will "kick ass and take names" as well as taunts a monster and claims it is nothing (Pride), Hanover is paranoid, distrustful and later ends up shooting at someone who is going to live and not him in a Taking You with Me attempt (Envy), Mason is seen stuffing money into his pockets (Greed) and Billy complains about all the work he has to do (Sloth).
  • Smart Ball: Canton's theory of the creatures' origins is completely out of left field. In an unexpected (but appropriate) subversion, he turns out to be very wrong.
  • Spoiler Title: Averted, as the working title of Tentacles was changed to conceal the real nature of the monsters. However, it's played straight with the theatrical poster, which features a menacing eyeball underwater. The "worms" don't have eyeballs, but the giant octopoid monster which the "worms" are attached to does.
  • Spotting the Thread: Finnegan was able to figure out that Canton was at the center of everything involving the mercenaries based on that fact he knew Hanover by name, something that wasn't touched on about until he accused him of being The Mole.
  • Sticky Fingers: Trillian deftly swipes Captain Atherton's security pass at the party and uses it to break into the ship's vault. When she's caught red-handed and Canton slaps her, she just as deftly steals his wallet in retaliation.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The sea monster continues to relentlessly pursue the heroes despite suffering extreme trauma from doing so every time. The graveyard of sunken ships we see at the beginning seems to indicate that the creature long ago figured out that ships were easy to attack and filled with tasty morsels. This is probably the first time it encountered anything on a ship that put up serious resistance. There are also dozens of whale skeletons in the same underwater graveyard, suggesting that it's an equal-opportunity predator.
  • Swallowed Whole: The creature's tentacles can eat human beings in one gulp, and function as a digestive chamber as well. One such victim falls back out after the heroes fire at a tentacle, still alive and half-melted.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Mason gets snagged by one of the tentacles and sets off a grenade when he gets halfway down its gullet.
    • When Hanover is slowly being eaten, he tried to shoot Joey so he won't die alone, only to miss.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Hanover reluctantly teams up with Finnegan (after threatening him multiple times over the last several hours) as he begins to lose more and more of his men.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • "I ask you, could it get any worse?" (Lights go out.) "Thanks, Joey."
    • At the end, Joey says "This looks like a nice enough place" just before something huge starts snarling and tossing trees around in the jungle.
  • Tentacled Terror: The monster is a cephalopod-like beast which happens to drink its preys alive.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers depict it as a standard monster movie. There's a lot more to it than that.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Disney was really bad about this in the trailer and video cover. The trailer basically shows you nearly all of the second half (despite the fact that you could have cut a really good trailer with just the first act) while the video cover depicts the film's climax. In all fairness, the cover looked so over the top, one could be excused for assuming it was just poster art and not actually a scene from the movie.
  • Trapped-with-Monster Plot: On a sinking cruise ship infested with man-eating tentacle monsters.
  • Traveling-Pipe Bulge:
    • When the worm monsters pass through pipes.
    • Overlaps with Dinner Deformation when the bulging mass of half-digested Billy travels the length of a loop of tentacle.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The hold full of bloody skeletons stretching as far as the eye can see doesn't really seem to affect Hanover that much.
  • Unseen Evil: The thing on the island.
  • Understatement: When Joey finds out all the torpedoes and Vivo catches him, echoing his "Oh, shit", Joey points out:
    Joey: I am feeling a real lack of love here.
  • Up Close with the Monster: In the climax, Octalus grabs the hero Finnigan with one of its tentacles and pulls him up to its face to have a look at him. This gives Finnigan the perfect opportunity to blow one of its eyes out with his shotgun.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: The spunky and capable Leila dies early on to establish the presence of the monsters.
  • Villain Protagonist: It is one of the few films that has no heroes or heroines. Finnegan and his crew are hired for villainous reasons. Trillian is a thief. Canton is a fraudster. The mercenaries are simply mercenaries, and the few crew members to survive the initial attack don't last long enough to do anything heroic.
  • Villainous Friendship: The mercenary Ruthless Modern Pirates appear to be Boisterous Bruisers with genuine camaraderie amongst themselves. They are even legitimately and grief-stricken distraught when learning of the deaths of their comrades.
  • Villainous Valour: Despite the infestation and ultimately getting all killed, the mercenaries are shown to be capable of this despite some of them undergoing the Break the Badass treatments, determined to fight their way to survival despite being picked off one by one.
    Hanover: I ain't waiting for no rescue party, Finnegan.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • With mercenaries and torpedoes on their ship, Joey and Leila chastise Finnegan for his Only in It for the Money attitude.
    • After everyone learns that Canton indirectly caused all this because of an Insurance Fraud scam, Joey shouts, "You mean we're all gonna die because you screwed up on the math?!" and shortly after, Atherton can be heard loudly berating Canton for his greed in a Funny Background Event. Subverted in that Canton is nowhere near heroic.
  • With Friends Like These...: En route to their target, T-Ray gets seasick and then has to put up with Vivo describing an assortment of tasty treats he'd like to snack on—greasy pigs feet, pickled monkey brains and raw elephant eyeballs. Billy blowing cigarette smoke in his face doesn't help.
  • The Worf Effect: T. Ray, the biggest and most violent member of Hanover's mercenary crew, is the first of them to be eaten by the monsters. Vivo who's the second biggest member of the crew, gets taken down by suprise by Canton hitting him with an axe to the head.
  • Wormsign:
    • Something makes the floor's iron grates rise up as it chases Finnegan and Joey down a corridor.
    • Occasionally, when the worms move underwater, you only see the rapid crest of water as they speed underneath.
    • At the end, the path of the unknown roaring creature is made visible because of the trees it's hurling aside as it charges through the jungle.
  • Would Hit a Girl: At the beginning of the film, Canton has no qualms about giving Trillian a vicious bitch slap when he and his goons catch her red-handed in the Argonautica's vault. She nicks his wallet in revenge.
  • You Just Had to Say It:
    Joey: I ask you, man, could it get any worse?
    [lights go out]
    Finnegan: Thanks, Joey.