Ron Scalpello’s efficient thriller arrives on DVD and HD Digital following its limited theatrical release. A small band of men working in the Indian Ocean are on a routine jaunt into the murky depths to fix a broken pipeline. Disaster strikes when their diving bell becomes untethered from the ship and they drop towards the bottom of the ocean.
Pressure wastes no time getting started, and once we have been briskly introduced to the crew (led by Danny Huston’s seasoned pro), it’s panic stations. I’m a big fan of bottle movies (one location stories) as it is not as easy as it looks to tell a compelling narrative in a confined space. For the most part Scalpello and his game cast succeed in building the tension, the stakes are suitably raised as we progress yet he still finds time for visual flourishes. Weaving flashbacks and daydreams into the story to flesh out some of the characters, works to trippy effect. After a while, you’re unsure what is a vivid dream and what is a horrifying reality.
The key to a successful bottle movie is sticking the right balance between the characters, on this front Pressure falls somewhat short as character developments are as minimal as the premise. Movies like U571, Below, and The Abyss have all centered on characters at odds with the dangers of the ocean. They all might differ widely in genre, but at the core is the same beating heart. However, those movies give us characters to root for, but Pressure is less concerned with providing reliable characters and more about creating a palpable atmosphere. Quibbles over the script aside, Pressure is efficient albeit brisk thriller that makes great use of its cast and location, but doesn’t fully deliver the movie you were expecting.
Taut, brisk and unnerving, Pressure delivers a claustrophobic thriller powered by a knockout performance from Danny Huston.