DEAD IN THE WATER (2018) Reviews and overview [updated]

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Dead in the Water is a 2018 American science fiction horror film about the all-female crew of a ship that is invaded by an alien creature.

Written and directed by Sheldon Wilson (Stickman; Neverknock; The Hollow; The Unspoken; Red: Werewolf Hunter)

The Dandelion Productions-Blue Ice Pictures-Out of Africa Entertainment co-production stars Nikohl Boosheri, Nicole Fortuin, Bianca Simone Mannie, Skye Russell, Tanya van Graan, Christia Visser and Amy Louise Wilson.


Dead in the Water is a nautical horror story that will probably remind you of a few other horror films. (Of course, if you’ve watched enough Syfy films, you know that’s not necessarily a complaint.) Like The Descent, it features an almost entirely female cast. Like Ghost Ship, it takes place within the claustrophobic confines of a boat floating on the ocean and there’s literally no escape to escape to be found.

Like an Alien film, this is essentially a siege film in which we watch the cast’s attempts to survive an attack from a relentless enemy that keeps coming and coming. And finally, much like John Carpenter’s The Thing, the enemy is an alien who jumps from victim to victim. You’re never quite sure who might be real and who might be possessed. It’s all about the paranoia.

Dead in the Water follows the crew of a boat that gets lost in a thick bank of fog. When they come across a man floating in the ocean, they pull him out and start to examine him. He’s still alive, though barely. He implores them to kill him and then themselves too. He says that the only way to “end this.”

After they oblige the first half of his request, the crew members speculate that may have had a virus but a video on his phone reveals a far different story. Apparently, the man was the last survivor of a group of scientists who came across an alien life form in the Arctic sea. With an alien life form now running around the boat, the crew must attempt to survive while a terrible storm rages outside.

Both thematically and visually, Dead in the Water is one of those films where everything is really, really dark. In fact, the film was so dark that it was sometimes difficult to see just what exactly was happening on the screen. At times, this was effective. After all, fear of the dark is one of the big phobias and the darkness made it easier for the alien to do its thing.

That said, I would someday like to see a new horror film that takes place in an adequately lit room. We’re so used to horror in the dark that I think horror in the daylight would probably be an interesting change of pace.

The best thing that Dead in the Water had going for it was its cast. I liked the fact that not only did this horror film feature an all-female cast but that they were all portrayed as being competent professionals. No one was there just to scream and be a victim, which is something that I always appreciate.

Though the nature of the alien isn’t a huge shock, it’s still an effective little monster. Director Sheldon Wilson does a good job of keeping the action moving and capturing the desperation of being stranded out in the middle of nowhere.

Lisa Marie Bowman – guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens

Other reviews:

“It’s an all-female crew, which is why the film is here, and it’s admirable that no one explicitly mentions this or makes a fuss about it […] The problem is that there isn’t enough effort put into differentiating them or establishing them as individuals […] there is a limit to how much sloth-like meandering along corridors by near-candlelight, I can tolerate. And this film reaches that quota inside the first 30 minutes, then keeps right on meandering.” Girls with Guns

” …everyone here is as competent, incompetent, emotional, calm, or violent as in pretty much every other genre film of the same style […] The script is just as calm and professional as these performances, hitting the right plot beats at the right moment […] Wilson’s by now so experienced in handling this sort of thing, the resulting film is actually thoroughly entertaining, and generally suspenseful.” The Horror!?

“At a certain moment, it seemed as if they were constantly running from the control cabin to the engine room. On the other hand, this limitation makes it fairly claustrophobic. It’s certainly exciting enough at certain times. Such a creepy atmosphere where people know that danger can strike from every corner. So if you like movies with murderous organisms, then you will like this SyFy movie.” Movie Freak

“It’s better than the usual Syfy movie fare of Hippocrocoshark vs Crabosaurus, or whatever, that they are more known for churning out, but, it’s that failure to bring anything new that was most disappointing for me. There were things that the movie did right, but it still failed to entertain after the opening twenty minutes and what could have been a tense movie that brought the all-female dynamics from The Descent and then mixed it with Life and The Thing, only stuck at sea, rather than space or the Antarctic, was instead tired and generic.” Reel Horror Show


Dead in the Water premiered on the Syfy channel on October 27, 2018. It is now available On-Demand via Amazon.

Cast and characters:

Nikohl Boosheri … Dana
Nicole Fortuin … Kat
Bianca Simone Mannie … Gwen
Skye Russell … Rusty
Tanya van Graan … Erika
Christia Visser … Sparks
Amy Louise Wilson … Michelle
Brandon Auret … Stranger

Filming locations:

South Africa

Technical details:

87 minutes


Not to be confused with the 2021 Lifetime psycho thriller film of the same which was written and directed by Nanea Miyata and stars Catherine Lidstone, Angela Gulner and Peter Porte.


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