Pickin’ the Carcass Visits THE RIG (2010)

PICKIN’ THE CARCASS:  THE RIG (2010)
By Michel Arruda

 The Rig movie poster

I’ve said it many times before but it’s true:  I’m a sucker for monster movies, and so today’s PICKIN’ THE CARCASS feature, THE RIG (2010), in spite of the fact that it’s a clear rip-off of the ALIEN formula, won me over.  It’s actually a pretty fun movie, worth checking out as long as you’re not expecting something original.

THE RIG takes place on an oil rig—so that’s where they got the title! —that’s suddenly in the path of a raging hurricane.  The head of the crew, Jim Fleming (William Forsythe) orders the bulk of the crew to evacuate temporarily, leaving just a skeleton crew on board until after the dangerous storm passes.

Hmm.  A hurricane raging all around, a few crew members trapped on a hulking oil rig in the middle of the ocean, I wonder what would happen if a man-eating monster showed up and decided to prey upon the unsuspecting crew?  Sounds like the formula for a good old-fashioned monster movie, which, in effect, is exactly what THE RIG is, a throwback to monster movies like ALIEN (1979) and THE THING (1982).

Is it as good as those movies? No way!  But it remains true to its traditions, and on this level, it succeeds.

So, yes, a monster does show up to wreak havoc amongst the skeleton crew.  That’s because the film opens with an undersea camera poking around the depths of the ocean, only to be destroyed by some unknown aquatic presence.  This thing later climbs on board the rig, a la the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  It’s obviously not happy with the results of its photo shoot and is seeking a re-take. Actually, it’s just a hungry beast that likes to eat humans.

On the rig, we have our cliché-ridden cast of characters, but what makes these folks enjoyable is the actors who play them actually do a decent job.  The head of the rig, Jim Fleming is busy contending not only with the storm but with his adult daughter Carey (Serah D’Laine) who’s in love with one of the oil men, Kyle Dobbs (Scott Martin).  Jim just doesn’t want his daughter involved with an oil man.  He wants more for his little girl.  Gag.  Yep, you can see this storyline coming a mile away, and it’s something we’ve seen a million times before, but luckily the movie doesn’t spend too much time on this plot point.  The bulk of the time is fortunately spent on the monster story.

Then there’s Freddy Brewer (Stacey Hinnen), the tough-as-nails rig worker who’s enjoying a fling of his own, with his hot co-worker, Rodriguez (Carmen Perez).  Freddy is also dealing with his younger brother who has requested to get off the rig because he’s tired of living in his older brother’s shadow.

Fortunately, all these stories go away once the monster shows up and starts feasting on human flesh. Once that happens, the remainder of the crew bands together and fights for survival, hoping to survive long enough for the storm to pass, so they can either get off the rig or have help arrive.

As I said, THE RIG isn’t going to earn any points for originality.  Its best scenes we’ve seen before in films like ALIEN and THE THING, but because it handles these scenes well, it still manages to entertain.

Probably my favorite part of THE RIG is that director Peter Atencio chose not to use CGI effects for the monster.  Instead, he uses an old-fashioned man in a suit, which once seen isn’t anything to brag about, but for the bulk of the film, director Atencio goes with the “less seen the better” philosophy, and it works.

Most of the creature scenes feature quick snippets of the monster, and so for the majority of the movie, you don’t see the creature, and this style works.  It’s scarier wondering just what exactly is around that dark corner, as opposed to seeing some fake-looking CGI creation that imbues no reality whatsoever.  So, for the most part, the creature scenes in this movie are effective.  Sure, towards the end, when we see more of the beast, it’s a bit of a disappointment, but it’s still better than a cartoony CGI beasty.

The cast also acquits itself well.  William Forsythe is solid as oil boss Jim Fleming.  Sure, he must have been fighting not to throw up as he delivered some of his cliché-ridden lines, but he really makes for a believable oil rig chief.

Forsythe is a veteran actor who’s been in a ton of movies.  I remember him most from way back when, with his performance in ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (1984) where he co-starred with Robert De Niro.  He was also memorable more recently in the awful HALLOWEEN (2007) remake.

Stacey Hinnen is also very good as Freddy, the tough guy, who becomes the “go to” guy once the creature shows up.  Serah D’Laine is okay as Jim’s daughter Carey.  She runs hot and cold, and she’s certainly no Sigourney Weaver.  Carmen Peres fares better as Rodriguez, in a supporting role.

Probably the weakest link of the main cast is Scott Martin as Serah’s boyfriend Kyle.  When it comes to tough guy heroes, he’s more Michael Biehn than Kurt Russell.  I’d rather have Kurt Russell.

The weakest part of the movie, no doubt, is the screenplay by Scott Martin—yep, the same guy who also plays Kyle in this one—Mariliee A. Benson, Lori Chavez, and C.W. Fallin, which is full of one cliché after another, some really bad dialogue, and characters so familiar they seem like family members.  Yet, in a strange way, it works, because it gets the monster stuff right, and since this is a monster movie after all, if you’re going to get something right, it might as well be the monster story.

When you come right down to it, THE RIG plays like a 1950s B movie, and for those of us who love monster movies, this isn’t a bad thing.

THE RIG offers some good old-fashioned monster movie fun, which as long as you’re not expecting anything new, provides a decent enough diversion for 90 minutes to make it worthwhile.

I give it two and a half knives.

—END—

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives THE RIG ~ two and a half knives!

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