Actually, let me say up front that this flick is more like 3 stars if that, but when I feel a movie is unjustly dumped on, I like to give it a helping hand. Having previously read the reviews here I passed it up, but, while browsing a used DVD store, I came across it and figured it'd be worth $4. Now, I suppose this is the part where I say, "boy, and am I glad I did!" but, honestly, it wasn't that good. However, it wasn't as bad as some reviewers here make it out to be. Upon finishing this movie, I suspected some sort of agenda-mongering by some of the reviewers here, but upon revisiting this page, I think the truth is that many of these people are simply jaded.
First, the cast is pretty decent. Contrary to what some have said here, they all performed quite well. The characters were likeable (unlike in some films) and the actors made you care about them (at least, should you make a modicum of an attempt to suspend disbelief in a film about rampaging sea-monsters). Many were unknowns, but that didn't make them "amateurish". I guess there's an element out there that figures if they aren't "name" actors, they must not be good. The entire cast did a good job being half-way convincing as oil-rig workers. The script simply didn't call for a whole lot of deep characterization, and this film didn't need it. In fact, what little drama there was seemed like excess baggage.
Second, the directing was competent for something like this. Nothing remotely stylish, but adequate. Decent editing. Cinematography was really nice at times, with lighting low enough to be moody, but still light enough to see the action. Also, the lighting seemed very realistic throughout most of the film, usually seeming like flourescents in a hallway or arc-lighting on the deck, no beautiful "artsy" lighting as in some movies. An instance or two of the shaky, hand-held camera so popular today, but not enough to be distracting.
Third, this was obviously filmed on a real oil-rig, so I don't know what movie the people complaining about the sets watched. Nothing more to say on that.
Finally, the Monster. Pretty decent man-in-a-suit, think "Humanoids from the Deep" here with an "Alien" make-over. I know that there is a clue-less strata of movie-goer out there that thinks that CGI, no matter how badly done, must trump the traditional methods, no matter how well done. Suffice to say, they are dead wrong.
Now, for the problems.
First, one of the reasons I wanted to see this was because I like William Forsythe, and, to be sure, he had a good role. Unfortunately, he just wasn't seen that much. Clearly, they had managed to land a "name" draw, but were unable to pay him for the duration.
Second, the directing and/or the script. Like I had noted previously, the directing was competent, but in order to create suspense, you have to do better than that. Too many derivitave scenes here, one lifted directly from the original "Alien". Yes, I know that these sort of things are expected of flicks like these. That cuts no mustard with me when you obviously have the components to make something better.
Lastly, the Monster. Yes, I know I said that it was pretty decent above, and it was, for a Man-in-a-suit. My problem with it is this: Why would something anthropomorphic come up from the bottom of the ocean? I mean, it should be like an eel, or giant lung-fish, or crab, or a squid-thingy, but human? I realize they never explained exactly what it was, and there lies my second problem with it. Not that everything has to be rationalized, but if you aren't going to do that, then at least make the creature something that one can truly believe might come out of the sea.
Now, it is possible that, after reading all the negatives here, my expectations were lowered so that I was pleasantly surprised by it (you see, I'm yet another jaded film-goer). I guess the main problem with this movie is that it isn't good enough to cover new territory and it isn't bad enough to be funny, setting it squarely in the middle as a rather pedestrian viewing experience. But, if it had been a made-for-TV film, most would have considered it one of the better ones. It surely blows away most "made-for-SyFy" features. In fact, in terms of watchability, think of it on a level with some of the lesser Stephen King adaptations for television.
In closing, I have to say that the only real fault with this movie, albeit a major one, is that, though not bad on its own, we've all seen it done before and done better with "Leviathan" and "Deep Rising". Only recommended for genre fans, but, if you truly are a B-movie creature-phile, you'll watch it regardless of the carping (get it? Carping...sea monsters, heheh) it will elicit. Go on, you know you want to.