Dead Calm (1989)


Aussie director Philip Noyce (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) spins a Hitchcockian yarn based on a novel by Charles Williams. Dead Calm is a solid thriller that takes place almost entirely on the open waters of the Pacific. Sam Neill and Nicole Kidman play a couple trying to overcome the loss of their child, when up to their boat rows beautiful but psychotic Billy Zane. Neill is suspicious of Zane’s story and decides to row over to Zane’s sinking schooner to learn more. By the time Neill discovers Zane’s terrible secret, the psycho has already kidnapped Kidman and left him to die. The tension mounts very nicely, even if the coda seems like something more out of your standard Hollywood fare. Neill, Kidman, and Zane carry the picture very well, and composer Graeme Revell (The Crow) provides an innovative score involving breathing sounds.

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