Considering that The Abyss was arguably James Cameron’s least successful film, it’s strange that it has spawned a fair few imitators over the years. Leviathan and Deep Star Six came out the same year (1989) and neither was considered classics of modern cinema. In fact, the only other sea monster movie that I’ve really enjoyed would have to be Stephen Sommers’ Deep Rising, which was a wonderfully trashy b-grade experience with Treat Williams at the helm.
Sector 7 is another seabound monster movie, this time from South Korea. Set on an oil rig off the coast of Jeju Island, the film sees a group of workers hoping to strike it lucky in this sector of the ocean. They’ve been met with nothing but failure thus far, but when they finally succeed, they soon learn that oil isn’t the only thing rising from the ocean’s depths.
Despite an apparent budget of $10 million, Sector 7 relies on a helluva lot of CGI and greenscreen work. The effects themselves would be impressive for a TV show, but here are found to be lacking. A lot of the dough must have been spent on the monster, however, and it is indeed a striking creation. Though rarely convincing the viewer that it’s sharing the same physical space as the human characters (or indeed the physical sets), at least it’s kinda nifty.
Sector 7 takes a long time to get going, which would be fine if the characterisations were remotely interesting. We have a kinda-sorta romance going on between the two good looking leads, a creepy dude who’s in love with the science officer, the captain and couple of jokers. Instead of peppering the first half of the film with increasing moments of dread, we don’t get anything vaguely monster-like until the 45 minute mark. And then we get the whole monster in one fell swoop. This is the biggest mistake in Sector 7. As filmmakers, critics and the general public have pointed out time and time again, Ridley Scott’s Alien worked so well because we rarely, if ever, saw the entire creature. The same goes with John Carpenter’s The Thing. And even the most idiotic creature feature since then (I’m looking at you, The Relic) has learnt from this. Here, however, we have a case of all or nothing.
The lack of clever set pieces or remotely suspenseful scenes is a big mistake. The best we can hope for in Sector 7 is a lot of slow motion leaping through the air (courtesy of both the human cast and the creature) and not much else. The over-reliance on CGI is frustrating, particularly when it wasn’t necessary. Many low budget monster movies have shown us that pacing and tension are much more important than epic motorbike chases or explosions.
Those who can’t resist a B-grade monster flick will probably give Sector 7 a go. There are one or two gory moments that impress and the cinematography is decent enough. Those who expect a teensy bit of excitement, suspense and/or surprises in their cinema experience, however, will find the film lacking.
Sector 7 is available now on DVD from Madman.Rating: