Dead Calm

April 7th, 1989


Dead Calm

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A mass-murderer kidnaps and seduces a young woman after leaving her husband to die on the vessel whose crew he's just slaughtered.

Release Year: 1989

Rating: 6.9/10 (17,873 voted)

Director: Phillip Noyce

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, Billy Zane

An Australian couple take a sailing trip in the Pacific to forget about a terrible accident. While on the open sea, in dead calm, they come across a ship with one survivor who is not at all what he seems.

Writers: Terry Hayes, Charles Williams

Nicole Kidman - Rae Ingram
Sam Neill - John Ingram
Billy Zane - Hughie Warriner
Rod Mullinar - Russell Bellows
Joshua Tilden - Danny
George Shevtsov - Doctor
Michael Long - Specialist Doctor
Lisa Collins - 'Orpheus' Cruise Girl
Paula Hudson-Brinkley - 'Orpheus' Cruise Girl
Sharon Cook - 'Orpheus' Cruise Girl
Malinda Rutter - 'Orpheus' Cruise Girl
Benji - Dog (as Benji U.D. A.D.)

Taglines: Try To Stay Calm.

Release Date: 7 April 1989

Filming Locations: Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Opening Weekend: $2,463,551 (USA) (9 April 1989) (959 Screens)

Gross: $7,825,009 (USA)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Turkey: (TV version)

Did You Know?

Around 1997, there were rumors that Orson Welles material had been revised and seemed "as good as complete (compared to the shooting script)," and that his widow, Paola Mori, was trying to get it cut and distributed.

Factual errors: When Rae pulls John aboard, it is dark, yet the side of the yacht is brightly lit.

[first lines]
sailor #1: Merry Christmas, Captain Ingram.
John Ingram: [returning salute] Merry Christmas, Eric.
sailor #2: Merry Christmas, sir...

User Review

A great horror thriller in the style of Eric Red

Rating: 8/10

Dead Calm is directed by Australian film maker Philip Noyce (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and he is very talented director. This film stars young Nicole Kidman (21-22 years old in this film!) as a wife to Sam Neill and they have lost their son in a horrible car accident. They want to get over it and so they go to the sea with their boat and spend several weeks there. All is going fine and they are going to get over the loss of their son, but soon they discover an abandoned looking ship in the horizon and a man (Billy Zane) paddling desperately towards them. The man reaches the ship and the couple helps him on the board. He is little confusing and suspicious and soon his real nature is revealed...

This is extremely pleasant thriller and reminds me of films written by Eric Red (The Hitcher, Near Dark, Blue Steel) and these four films are very similar. The atmosphere in Dead Calm is very haunting and incredibly restrained. The atmosphere is also very similar to David Lynch and Lost Highway and Twin Peaks. The music is very important element in Dead Calm (as is in The Hitcher and Near Dark, too) and the overall feeling is very threatening and ominous. There are many exciting and breath taking scenes such as the one in which Sam Neill is trapped in a boat that is sinking and filling with water. With music, the photography is great and there are definitely no technical flaws in this great and surprisingly effective flick.

The young Nicole Kidman is so talented and acts perfectly. No one can say she can't act. Just look at her face and expressions: she is the main character in here and she is almost in every scene and she does nothing wrong or never acts over the top. The other actor's are also great, Sam Neill and Bill Zane, even though Zane goes little too far in couple of scenes and is not too believable. But overall, because there are so many great elements here, these little flaws and illogical plot turns can be forgiven.

Philip Noyce is worth watching director and he has done also other effective thrillers, but I think this will be one of his greatest achievements. Dead Calm is highly recommended.



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