The Rift (Endless Descent) (1990)
The Rift (Endless Descent) (1990)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 23 min.

Release Date: October 5th, 1990 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Juan Piquer Simon Actors: Jack Scalia, R. Lee Ermey, Ray Wise, Deborah Adair, John Toles Bey, Ely Pouget, Emilio Linder, Tony Isbert

 


 

T

he designer of a military-funded submarine, Wick Hays (Jack Scalia), is brought before some Pentagon liaisons to take partial blame for the modification failures of the nuclear-powered Siren 1. He’s upset to learn that he’s being dragged into a rescue attempt by a NATO team based in Norway, which will be headed by the stern, by-the-books Navy Captain Randolph Phillips (R. Lee Ermey) and his right-hand-woman Lieutenant Nina Crowley (Deborah Adair) – who just happens to be Wick’s ex-wife. Once underway aboard the USS Siren 2, it’s evident that the crew isn’t there to make friends, while malfunctions and sabotage could destroy any chance of reaching their final destination.

Despite a few dependable cast members (and a handful of indubitably bad actors), the dialogue is immediately weak – or, in flimsier moments, downright laughable. Even exterior shots of the sub, which appear very much like a toy in a bathtub, are somewhat forgivable against the blandness of scripted exchanges. But the majority of this picture continuously struggles not to betray its low budget and cut corners, particularly with secondary visuals, including sets, costumes, props, and underwater sequences.

Continuity issues are also tragically apparent. The ships are designated as Siren, Syren, Siren 1, Siren One, Siren-2, Siren II, and more, suggesting that no one bothered to nail down specific designations. And Hays is credited as “Hayes” during the closing text crawl. These may be minor incidences, but they’re obvious examples of a rushed production; details matter if audiences are meant to invest in the plights of fictional characters and harrowing scenarios. At least, even while navigating around clunky conversations and exclamations, the players take their roles seriously, avoiding unnecessary comic relief – save for Joe “Skeets” Kane (John Toles Bey), who purposely spouts sexist banter. The personas of Roger Fleming (Tony Isbert), H. Robbins (Ray Wise), Carlo Camerini (Alvaro Labra), H. Muller (Frank Brana), Phillipe Huppert (Emilio Linder), Francisco Grau (Luis Lorenzo), and Ana Rivera (Ely Pouget) do their best not to trip over the poorly written discourse – though they don’t always succeed. “It’s totally infected him!”

“You’re handling more firepower than you need.” Tensions occasionally mount during maneuvering accidents and run-ins with abnormal seaweed, but the more competent adventure begins when a subterraneous cavern requires investigation. It certainly takes a substantial percentage of screentime before the scares arrive, but eventually “The Rift” boasts some graphic violence, exaggeratedly blowing up body parts and mutant lifeforms with military weaponry. Some of these moments are amusing, making use of slimy puppets, tentacled creatures, pulsating wounds, and buckets of fake blood, but unconvincing miniatures and a terribly unoriginal, notably derivative premise (and a silly conclusion) work to keep this early ’90s deep-sea monster movie (also known as “Endless Descent”) an obscure curio, forgotten amid its more creative brethren, like “The Abyss,” “Leviathan,” and “Deepstar Six.”

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10