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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Rift (aka Endless Descent) (Blu-ray)
The Rift (aka Endless Descent) (Blu-ray)
Kino // R // September 20, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted October 27, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The Rift:
The Rift (AKA Endless Descent) is very much like a scary sci-fi adventure movie made by actor Joe E. Tata's fictional Peach Pit customers from Beverly Hills 90210. It's earnest and gung-ho, light and sassy, and almost, I say, almost dangerous, like a good scary sci-fi movie should be. Released in 1989, J.P. Simon's answer to Leviathan and The Abyss won't give you the bends, but as a late-night snack, it's pretty fun.

Wick (Jack Scalia) is some kind of science whiz-adult, designer of the Siren 1, an experimental submarine meant to go way low in the briny. Unfortunately, that sub has gone missing, and now a new crew on the Siren 2, accompanied by Wick and his hot, mousy ex-wife (Deborah Adair) are sent down to figure out what happened. Also unfortunately, the crew is comprised of wisecracking, beer-drinking ne'er-do-wells, including Ray Wise. Good thing R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket) is there to whip them into some kind of shape, otherwise instead of descending to 26,000 feet below sea level, the sub would probably end up floating over to a karaoke bar.

Mild interpersonal intrigue is meant to distract us from radical implausibility, on our way to a showdown with whatever weird shit is happening way down low. We don't really much care how Wick handles the presence of former spouse Lt. Nina. [SPOILER ALERT] (They end up holding hands.) [END SPOILER ALERT] Nor do we care if this rag-tag crew impresses Captain Phillips (Ermey). What we care about is whether there are freaky mutants, and if they'll generally eat and slime everyone.

Mild and semi-engaging variations of the good stuff occur at a decent clip, but our disbelief isn't suspended, it's submerged by radical implausibility. I'm no submarine captain, but I'm pretty sure that if you're under 22-thousand feet of water, you don't just open up the hatch to pull up seaweed samples in a little bucket. Little things like that combine with goofy stereotypical characters to deflate (take the wind out of the sails, whatever bad joke you want) any sense of real tension or peril. Whatever the case, almost-creepy creatures and glop do eventually appear and explode in Euro-Trash fashion. Nothing to get viewers drooling, but sufficient if you're on the couch at 2AM in a Fanta-Coma.

The Rift isn't director Juan Piquer Simon's best genre work. (We'll leave that to Pieces and Slugs, and if you're familiar with those movies, then you'll know that 'best' is a very subjective term.) This tale of ultra-deep submarines and weird undersea mutants is full of clichéd characters and devoid of suspense. However, if you're looking for a light, implausible time-waster, in which the stakes are really low, you could do lots worse than to Rent It.

The DVD

Video:
Coming at you in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio transfer, The Rift enjoys a brand new 2016 HD mastering job. Steely grays and blues predominate the color palette and general tone of the movie, making skin-tones seem appropriately sickly. The movie opens up literally and figuratively when our explorers start blasting apart mutants, with warmer colors and moody fog making things lively. All that fog is handled well, never degrading into posterization or worse, even though details are hard to grasp in the mist. Film grain is present but mild, and there isn't much in the way of print damage to be found. Details are acceptably strong for a B-movie from 1989. I spotted one instance where the image switched to a 4 x 3 ratio for whatever reason, in the underwater cave, but that was pretty much the only thing I saw to complain about.

Sound:
For your audio needs, Kino Lorber gives you a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track, which is just fine. Dubbed dialog sounds just OK, with dimensionality that doesn't quite match the dynamics you'd expect in a sub. Nonetheless, there isn't any degradation to the source, and everything is clean and clear sounding. The submarine has a healthy rumble and roar as it cruises through the depths, and other aspects of sound design are mixed OK. The 2.0 mix doesn't allow for truly creative and immersive atmosphere, but is livelier than some low-budget genre stuff I've watched lately.

Extras:
Extras are limited to Reversible Artwork, (if you want to go with the original title and poster design) an original Trailer, and Cast Interviews. Ray Wise gets 24 minutes to talk about his experiences on set, and other aspects of his career. Jack Scalia does much the same for 31 minutes, while R. Lee Ermey takes just 7 minutes to thoroughly savage the movie. It's all rather interesting and worth the time of genre fans.

Final Thoughts:
The Rift isn't director Juan Piquer Simon's best genre work. (We'll leave that to Pieces and Slugs, and if you're familiar with those movies, then you'll know that 'best' is a very subjective term.) This tale of ultra-deep submarines and weird undersea mutants is full of clichéd characters and devoid of suspense. However, if you're looking for a light, implausible time-waster, in which the stakes are really low, you could do lots worse than to Rent It.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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