This forgotten and unsuccessful entry by Friday the 13th creator Sean S. Cunningham has been victim to constant criticism by horror/sci-fi film buffs around the world. 'Deep Star Six', along with 'Leviathan', will always be associated with 'The Abyss' - as the anticipation films, and this is why I think it fails with many people. It is because they associate it with 'The Abyss', a superior film. Now, I'm sure the film makers were anticipating that another James Cameron movie would become a blockbuster and obviously they saw the topic he was basing it on had potential. No doubt their goal was to compete with the maestro of the blockbuster with films on his resume that spell 'The Terminator' and 'Aliens'. And much like deep space, deep ocean exercised the imagination. This was a chance to make big money. So, at least four films came out that year surrounding the depths of the mysterious ocean. This is the obvious.......
The problem, is that we still associate these three films long after 1989. Apart from the obvious, they are nothing alike.....at all. One is about aliens that manipulate water that have a good reason to destroy the humans (The Abyss). Another is a horror about genetic mutation and a resulting monster that feeds on living things to grow and wreak havoc (Leviathan). And the other is a gory adventure story about what creatures can be lurking below the ocean floor (Deep Star Six). The latter, although not the best of the three, utilizes the imagination far beyond the other two in that it really makes you think about what's down there.
Contrary to popular belief, I thought the direction by Cunningham was competent. Maybe not the best direction of all-time, but it was atmospheric and that's what I loved about it. Also, if we're already comparing them, 'Leviathan' might have been more expensive, but 'Deep Star Six' looked better and more realistic (although I immensely enjoyed Leviathan and its sets).
The casting was great. I like it when adventure escapist films don't use well known actors - it really makes you feel like you are there and I think you get to know the characters better that way. Otherwise you'd be thinking about the actor's trademark persona all the time. Marius Weyers is one hell of a great South African actor and he always gives a tense and convincing performance in such films.
The suspense was well spread. Not over indulgent but realistic. Again, the movie makes you feel like you are there with the crew, so the suspense is more circumstantial than deliberate. The music builds with the atmosphere well.
The most important part of the film for me was the cavern and the creature. Both were designed very well, considering the film's limited budget. The creature for the most part was very convincing and at times even scary. The film's special effects, especially the gore was unbelievable. The scene that stood out the most for me was Snyder's quick panic escape to the surface far far about the ocean floor in which he forgets to decompress and he pops like a watermelon - a masterful sequence. Although the creature isn't always around in the film, it is never-the-less quite responsible for 90% of the accidents that occur, apart from the few it actually kills on its own. If the creature weren't there, none of what happens in the movie would have actually happened. So, although we don't see much of the creature, the film is solely based around it. It is the fore front of everything.
I liked how the film was a little character driven. Miguel Ferrer nails his role with extreme prejudice. He stole every scene, as the hot-shot turned loser turned psycho. His transformation is unreal. The whole cast is essentially fish bait with brains trying to survive this mysterious creature and resurface.
I found the film very engaging, interesting and thought provoking and I just let my imagination take over. The film took me to another world. It was a fun, suspenseful, gory and atmospheric sci-fi underwater adventure.
Although it may have some 'Alien' elements in it, it by no means is an 'Alien' clone. It is completely an original film and feels more like a Jules Verne story than a Ridley Scott story. Whoever associates this with 'Alien', 'The Thing' or even 'The Abyss' should be sent to the Gulag for 30 years hard labor without parole.
I recommend this film to anyone who wonders about the mysterious, undiscovered deeps of the ocean and to those who love adventure stories in general. Forget about the negative reviews the film gets. See for yourself.
Review by Freddy Levit from the Internet Movie Database.