“Leviathan” is one of those late 80s/early 90s studio horror movies that’s *almost* great, but falls just short. Its chief asset is its incredibly potent plotline, which features underwater miners that encounter a sunken ship that shouldn’t exist, and the ensuing terror and chaos that their investigation into the shipwreck sparks. With a number of great-looking underwater sequences that are as creative as they are charming, not to mention its increasingly claustrophobic indoor sets that force a striking contrast between the shots, it’s impressive how director George P. Cosmatos establishes an oppressive, anything-can-happen atmosphere fairly early on. Additionally, the creature effects are carefully revealed on the way to an explosive climax, and while it’s easy to see the influence of “Alien” all over the movie, it feels more deferential than derivative. However, the movie’s overall impact is diluted by the paper-thin screenplay and its resulting lackluster performances: Despite a solid cast of upper-echelon genre veterans like Peter Weller, Ernie Hudson and Kathleen Quinlan, no one seems to know how to play their respective characters so they’re all just window dressing in between the special effects showcases instead of the other way around. That being said, the movie’s still a lot of fun to watch and memorable in its own way.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)