Movie Reviews 191 – Dead Calm (1989)

Dead CalmA simple plot in which a couple, Rae (Nicole Kidman) and John (Sam Neill), seek solitude and isolation on their yacht to console their hearts after the recent tragic loss of their child only to be terrorized by a young man they encounter on the high seas from another drifting yacht.

Their visitor Hughie, (Billy Zane) who frantically rowed over in a dinghy to their yacht, spews tales of a food poisoning outbreak that took the lives of the others who were on his boat. Perplexed at first, especially when Hughie stoutly refuses to return for any reason to his now abandoned vessel, John, a career senior naval officer is suspicious. As Hughie catches a few winks he decides to ride the dinghy back to Hughie’s ship where he has a few surprises in store for him.

But that leaves Rae alone with Hughie and it is she that must somehow survive the whimsies of the obviously deranged Hughie. All she has is the hope that her husband is still alive on Hughies boat and her dog.

The stark isolation compounds the suspense that the couple face and even with a cast of only three people there is enough tension and action to live up to the best of any high seas battle. It’s a game of minds and chance that will determine the outcome but even on such a limited set there are plenty of surprises.

I think Dead Calm has flown under the radar of most people although I remember enjoying it years ago. If seeing these three stars early on in their careers isn’t enough to entice you, the dog certainly will!


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