Director David Twohy is a real hoser. Just ask the soggy stars of the World War II submarine chiller Below.
Credit: Below: Richard Blanshard
  • Movie

May 1, 2001. On Oxford Street in London, hundreds of anarchists march in the annual May Day protest, smashing windows and menacing those foolish enough to be seen in suits. In Hollywood, actors threaten to shut down the industry, at a potential cost of billions. And on a stage at England’s dank Shepperton Studios, writer-director David Twohy — with a downright frightening gleam in his eye — wields a hose and howls at actors Matt Davis, Jason Flemyng, and Zach Galifianakis.

”Everyone will be soaking, right?” he barks like a drill sergeant, unleashing a torrent of chilling liquid. ”More water! Great! Great! Tee-hee-hee!”

Nope, May 1 is not a good day to be a Londoner or an actor — but on the set of Dimension’s supernatural thriller Below (see review on page 91), it is a par- ticularly damp hell to be both. Twohy, a short man with an impressively foul mouth (”She’s got a glob of s — – on her face.” ”F — -. F — -. F — -!”), marshals weary troops for his follow-up to 2000’s surprise sci-fi hit Pitch Black. (He’s now in preproduction on Pitch’s sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick.) Long considered a master of the skillful genre film — his scripts include The Fugitive and Waterworld — he’s tackling a tale about the hallucinatory breakdown of the crew of a haunted World War II sub. A very leaky World War II sub.

Of course, if the sopping stars are casting about for blame, they should call Dimension chief Bob Weinstein. In 2000, ”Bob asked USA Films to see Pitch Black and USA wouldn’t show it to him,” Twohy explains. ”So he got a bootleg and said, ‘You should be making pictures over here!’ So he basically just ran through his development slate and one [project] was ‘Haunted submarine written by the ¶ guy.’… I rewrote Darren Aronofsky’s scr… Hang on a sec… We need more drips! Damn it!”

Twohy scampers past gore-splattered sheets and a puddle of stage blood, to the cast’s audible groans. His relentless pace and almost scary enthusiasm are becoming legend. A journalist visiting the set of About a Boy several miles away is told by codirector Chris Weitz: ”David Twohy? Whoa. That guy sounds…a little nuts.”

Everyone has their coping mechanisms. Bruce Greenwood (Thirteen Days) — the vessel’s captain — strums his guitar while explaining: ”There’s a little bit of Hamlet in this. A little bit of the Scottish play too.” Of course, it’s not clear if he’s talking about the movie or the shooting of the movie. Olivia Williams (Rushmore) sits quietly sipping tea. And everyone else seems to be hiding in a makeshift games area beneath the raised, tubular set — grimly shuffling Scrabble tiles. (Little do they know that the movie won’t come out for a year and a half: Dimension got scared off the original release date, Twohy says, by a two-headed hydra that turned out to be nothing scarier than Collateral Damage and Rollerball.)

After suffering gentle ridicule for playing two instead of the point-rich towards, Matt Davis gets the director’s call. He pulls on his scuba suit and voices what must be the entire cast’s sentiment: ”Oh well,” he smiles. ”I guess it’s time to go get wet.”

  • Movie
  • R
  • 104 minutes
  • David Twohy