My notes on The Creature Below
This low-budget British creature feature has some elements in common with recent female-turning-monstrous pictures (Contracted, Bite) but also owes a little to the persistent but occasional strain of surrogate-parent-to-a-ravenous-monster cinema (The Little Shop of Horrors, Possession, Brain Damage). And it’s a footnote to H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos with a Miskatonic University degree on the wall and a possible appearance by Great Cthulhu in the climax. Withal, it’s still a grim British houseshare saga about a fractured family – the slime and tentacle stuff subs for the sort of social stress that drives similar folks potty in Mike Leigh movies, but we’re still in a territory of tense arguments over the kitchen table and flouncing out at the worst possible time.
Scientist Olive Crown (Anna Dawson) goes on a deep dive (decent effects work for the budget) and has a transcendentally weird experience downbelow. Unpacking her kit in the house she shares with her careworker boyfriend Matt (Daniel Thrace), she finds a gelatinous egg which hatches out into an undefined creature of the depths whick sickens as she goes through the Tigger-like process of trying to find out what it eats before a cut finger (as in Little Shop of Horrors) gives the obvious answer … which inevitably sets her on the path to homicide of inconvenient folks who try to get between her and the monster she is nurturing, with a sidetrip to abduct an old person from the care home where Matt works. Though she has to fend off sinister types from the science project that sponsored the dive, Olive’s nemesis is her more outgoing sister Ellie (Michaela Longden), who is in the house on a long visit and somehow always says the wrong thing, getting on Olive’s nerves with her irresponsible lifestyle and making herself available to Matt at the worst possible time. Dawson and Longden are excellent, and pull off the trick of treating the whole thing earnestly even as the rubbery creature becomes more ravenous and obviously evil.
The men in the film are more stereotyped and perfunctory, though Thrace manages to work up some sympathy for the short-sighted boob who becomes the main victim – especially when he gets thrown out of a job because Olive fed that old lady to the monster and she isn’t remotely interested in his humiliation. The finale finds the protagonist back on a beach, covered with eggs washed in by the tide … and something a bit too cartoony rising from the waves. Written by Paul Butler and director Stewart Sparke.