The Creature Below (2016) [FrightFest 2016]

thecreaturebelowAfter a diving accident that almost cost her life, Olive finds an odd egg in her damaged oxygen tank.  Sneaking it off of the boat after being fired, she brings it homes to study it and see what kind of beast might emerge from it in this Lovecraftian tale from the UK. The Creature Below is directed by Stewart Sparke who wrote the story Paul Butler based his script on.  They create an interesting lead who loses her job and returns home to her boyfriend after 5 months at sea.  Tensions are clear and expected between them and they get stronger as she works with the creature in her home office and as her sister visits.

The character is well written while most of the others are a bit thin, being used mostly to establish Olive and her life and to advance the story.  Some feel a bit caricatured while others are just underdeveloped.  Thankfully, Olive, her sister Ellie, and her boyfriend Matthew have a bit more depth, making their scenes and interactions more interesting. The cast for these characters does well with Anna Dawson in the lead doing the best with the most interesting arc.  Some of the choices she makes may seem odd but they work in the long run.  Also giving decent performances are Daniel Thrace as Matthew and Michaela Longden as Ellie.  Longden comes off a bit annoyed and possibly despicable, but it works with her part.

Johnny Vivash gives possibly the best performance of the film as Olive’s (ex) co-worker Daara as he gives a conflicted performance that has a bit more subtlety than the others.  A few other performers get a decent amount of screen time but unfortunately their performances only range from ok to plain bad. The main star here is not really any of the human characters such as Olive, but the creature that hatches from the egg she brings home.  This creature is made of practical effects and puppetry rather than going full CGI.  The creature effects by Neil Stevens and Paul Wilkins look fantastic, the egg and small creature are plain adorable while being slimy.  The creature, once it grows, is maneuvered by puppeteers Adam Cliff, Ruchard Jacobs, Dave Jameson, and Daniel Thrace who do a great job bringing it to life and giving it a bit of personality.

The practical effects are great which makes the one big scene of CGI at the end that much sadder as those visual effects are nowhere near as good as the practical ones. The Creature Below is an interesting take on the Lovecraftian monsters with fantastic puppet work which is far above the usual for independent movies.  The acting is mostly good and the film on the whole is entertaining and intriguing.  It was also the lowest budget film at FrightFest 2016.