A Voyage Into Fear.
There are several occasions when this rousing Australian thriller from 1987 should have ended with a well-placed shot from a speargun or a stronger knot of rope, but you don't think about these nit-picky details when you're being scared out of your wits. In a role that catapulted her to international stardom, Nicole Kidman plays a young wife who's joined her husband (Sam Neill) on a yachting trip to recover from the tragic death of their son. Far out to sea, they encounter a sinking ship with one survivor (Billy Zane, ten years before Titanic), but inviting him aboard turns out to be a very bad mistake. While Neill attempts to salvage the sinking boat, Kidman is fighting for her life against the psychotic Zane--a villain so creepy that you eagerly look forward to his demise. By the time that moment arrives director Phillip Noyce has resorted to a typical slasher-movie climax (proving that no boat should be without a flare gun), but until then Dead Calm is a nail-biting thriller that's guaranteed to keep you in a state of nail-biting suspense. To accommodate the widescreen compositions on the open ocean, the DVD offers the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. --Jeff Shannon