User Reviews (14)

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  • Alex-37221 December 2001
    This is one strange movie, because it has two great names writing and directing it, Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark) and Eric Red (The Hitcher). It's almost as if some one said: how can we make the leanest, most effective thriller? This is a movie with literally only three actors (3), no extras and the carpenters and assistant carpenters outnumber them more than 2 to 1. As well, this movie, even though it is supposedly located somewhere in "The Carolinas", is shot on location in Latvia (maybe that's why they only flew over 3 actors). This shack could have been anywhere, though, they never needed to leave Hollywood. The major problem with this movie is that the theme has been done to death (hapless traveller drives through the country side, a car breaking down and is scooped up by the locals - where have we seen that before? Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Deliverance, Children Of The Corn...). Anyway, the actors do what they can and there are some suspenseful moments, but they're not sustained until the end of the movie. Cliches abound.
  • tootster12 January 2007
    I watched this film on Cable TV at the Sunshine Coast when my partner and I were on holidays last week. It was in the apartments we were staying at.

    Overall, I love Lou Diamond Phillips and Mia Sara any-ways. Also Charles Dance, I have seen him in Alien 3 and other films..

    I thought the producer / director were budget smart in making the film. Only picking 3 actors and having them on the credits (only) is somewhat clever. Plus 1 house, weapons and simplistic costumes and props.

    I thought it was pretty good. As it had some suspenseful moments. Plus it focused on observational behaviour. Like what is coming next? What do we do next in this house! The camera and acting made it feel to the audience that "what would you do in a situation like this?" Be smart, and smarter...

    I thought there were some techniques used in the cameras and scenes where they were quite labouring, just to give the viewer an idea or thought of what the actors were doing next. I think with some movies I have watched in the past, are similar to some styles portrayed from veteran film-makers. At least I think they tried to.

    Overall 6 out of 10.

  • I watched this film, because I knew there were only three actors in it. That seemed very special to me. The story also seemed quite interesting to me. Not that the story is original, but you can make very good movies out of stories like that. But I was disappointed when I saw it. The direction was not that good and the acting of Lou Diamond Philips was not so good and sometimes a bit irritating. Luckily there are Charles Dance and Mia Sara, that do quite well. The film is quite exciting, but when it nears the end it deteriorates. If the budget would have been bigger, they could have done the cinematography much better and then this would be a much better film. The end could also have been done a little better. A missed opportunity.
  • Despite (or perhaps because of) high expectations Undertow started off as an interesting thriller but had trouble sustaining it's (relatively short) length and just didn't seem to have the pace or intensity required to carry it to it's end successfully.

    Being a fan of much of writer/director Eric Red's previous work, most notably as a writer of such fine films as The Hitcher, Near dark and Blue Steel (the last two in combination with his writing partner here, Kathryn Bigelow) I was expecting a taut, suspenseful film. However while the film didn't match up to these earlier works it definitely wasn't a total waste, and on a smaller scale was a quite entertaining, if somewhat limited, experience.

    Overall the acting from the three leads was quite good, with Dance's performance especially being distinctly well handled without relying on over the top histrionics, while Phillips and Sara both playing their less flashy parts solidly enough. Eric Red handles the direction well for the most part but is perhaps, if anything, a little too meandering at times in what ultimately unfolds more like a play than a film.

    Probably the film's biggest fault is that much like Red's direction, the film itself is just a little too understated for the most part, and then, as is often the case with films of this nature, it tends to go from believability to stretching credibility a tad too far just for the sake of theatrics at the end, the result of which ultimately just diminishes the overall impact of what has come before.

    Overall Undertow is a solid, if unremarkable thriller that definitely has it's moments, it's just that not all of those moments are as good as they could have been.

    One man's opinion. 7/10
  • Jack Ketchum (Lou Diamond Phillips) loses control and crashes his car in the deep woods during a driving rainstorm. He is brought to a cabin with the Yates. Lyle Yates (Charles Dance) is a gun-totting paranoid mountain man. His woman Willie (Mia Sara) is demure and painfully quiet. A hurricane is coming to wash out everything but Lyle refuses to evacuate. Then everything gets confused like Lyle.

    I watch this to see Mia Sara and also noticed the Kathryn Bigelow writing credit. It holds a bit of promise at the start as a disturbing three person play. However the movie falls apart along with everything else during the storm. LDP has always had this manufactured intensity to me. He tries to act tough rather than simply be tough especially during this time in his career. I rather have Ketchum be weaker and more of a city dweller. Lyle's craziness is too random. The romance is too abrupt and melodramatic. A simple psychological thriller turns messy and confused.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Let me first say for some reason I like this movie. It's atmosphereic and creepy. The setting is perfect and I'm a sucker for movies that take place during a storm. Now, I get it. The "mountainman" is the stereotypical unlikable hick. HOWEVER, I do find myself asking who is the real bad guy here. First of all while I find "Willie's" backstory troubling and sad her character comes off as a typical selfish unlikeable home wrecking whore. "Jack" is a self centered drifter who obviously leaves a path of emotional destruction wherever he goes. He comes off as your typical over confident, egotistical young city slicker who thinks he's God's gift to women, etc. He's also your typical "one-upper" who constantly feels the need to show off and prance around like a peacock. Now we get to Lyle. While he is without a doubt and ignorant SOB who refuses to conform to social norms and general niceties he is also a "don't mess with me and I won't mess with you" kind of guy. He's provided for "Willie" her whole life. She's never had to work a day but for normal household duties. She always has a full belly and a warm place to lay her head. All "Lyle" asked for was respect and the typical "hunter gatherer" relationship that has served mankind since the beginning of time. He is a backwards fool but who rescued who? Who offered shelter from the storm? Who provided warm meals and cigarettes to whom? Who's house was it? Who's truck was it? Who's WIFE was it? "Jack" came into "Lyle's" life just as hard and fast and with just as much destructive power as the storm. I think in the long run the storm was tied to "Jack" more than anything. It was "Hurricane Jack" that destroyed an innocent man's simple life. "Lyle" was an "a-hole" but long story short he really didn't do anything to deserve "Jack" coming in and destroying everything he built and eventually even killing him and running off with his wife. I would say that if this were an actual court case. "Jack" and "Willie" would both be found guilty of manslaughter. From the beginning "Jack" was an intruder and a tresspasser, and while I'm not familiar with North Carolina law the laws of man generally are on the side of the landowner. Again, I know we are supposed to feel for "Willie" and "Jack" and perhaps that's the way it was intended but the actors performances made me see this in a different light. "Lyle" was the victim here. Case closed.
  • A man's (Lou Diamond Phillips) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and he finds a cabin deep in the woods. Unwittingly Phillips walks into a volatile situation with a psychotic nut-job (Charles Dance) and his bewildered and frightened young wife (Mia Sara). Soon the typical situations take place as Phillips seems to be in a struggle to survive and of course help Sara escape her mad husband. And naturally Phillips and Sara begin to develop deep romantic feelings for one another. Painful killer of a movie that feels like it was just thrown together with minimal resources and seemingly no planning. Phillips, who is one of those somewhat talented performers who always seems to find himself in terrible cinematic vehicles, looks tired and bored throughout. Unfortunately, he is not as tired and bored as the audience is sure to be. Turkey (0 stars out of 5).
  • youngpowell30 December 2005
    Oh dear, what a horrid movie.

    The production was so cheap and nasty... Remember the shot from "the Natural", where the lightning hits the tree (leaving a glowing stump) that Roy Hobbs makes a bat from?? Well the producers of this movie used that same scene to prefix a scene where a tree branch slammed into the house.

    I wonder if they paid to use the footage from The Natural, or did they just hope that no-one who would watch the film would pick it up ?

    Then at the end where they were getting trying to get away in the truck. Such over-acting in the cabin.

    A really bad film, a really bad film.
  • sponj11 March 2002
    But i would watch it again. That doesn't make any bit of sense does it. This film honestly does begin interesting. It ends in way crazy confusion in an unbelievable sequence of events. Things happen in this film that aren't properly explained. Is willie in LOVE with her husband. Does this scraggly mountain mad really not know that Lou Diamond is hip dipping with his wife? What begins as a thrilling story with a love triangle to accent, becomes a stupid peice of crap movie.
  • chrissage27 February 2004
    just below the surface lies what? a simply awful movie is what.

    as other viewers have justifiably commented, the storm sequences are just plain ridiculous. chopping already sodden firewood in the pouring rain? now that's smart. menace? foreboding? sexual tension? for those read dull & contrived, dull & contrived and dull & overly contrived.

    i want to say thank god for mia sara's shower scene but in retrospect i think the producers of the film, having seen the completed mess realised that they had to put something in to make it half way worthwhile at all. so it just becomes yet another contrivance. do yourself a favour and give this a miss.
  • I sat through this turkey because I hadn't seen it before, and because the premise sounded like it had potential. It was mildly entertaining until the hurricane sequence. At the height of the storm, the wind is strong enough to blow windows out of the house, yet the trees in the background are perfectly upright and not a leaf is moving! In fact, when the characters move outside the house, bright sunlight is visible illuminating the treetops. At that point, whatever credence the filmmakers had developed evaporated faster than the highly localized rain in their film. Too bad all hurricanes aren't like this one, it would surely help our homeowners insurance rates here in the Sunshine State.
  • The viewer leaves wondering why he bothered to watch this one, or why, for that matter, anyone bothered to make it. There is no plot - just random scenes of ridiculous action. Mia Sara's shower scene appeals to the male libido, but that's not much reason to make a movie.
  • Bou6 January 2001
    A warning to you not to be seduced by the names Bigelow and Red. _Undertow_ is pointless and unengaging, and made me think often of a phrase by Twain about wishing all the characters would be drowned together. When someone brings up the category of Worst Films Ever Made, it's not the likes of _Plan 9_ or _Attack of the Killer Shrews_ that I think of; it's the likes of this. What a complete waste of time--my own and everyone who was involved with this flick.
  • As a premise, this backwoods version of the Dead Calm storyline had promise.

    However, director Eric Red's inability to render a convincing hurricane leads to a deluge of continuity and lighting errors.

    Ultimately, the viewer is more spellbound by the bizarre weather effects than the intended storyline. Intermittent spates of ham-fisted over-direction are similarly distracting.

    Charles Dance, doing an 'inbred backwoods hardass' schtick, does his best to save the movie. But ultimately, Undertow squeals like a pig ... and has more ham to boot.