The Rig Episode 1 spoiler-free review: Supernatural horror resembles The Mist and The Thing, only without scares
The Rig is a new aquatic horror with a supernatural twist. But while the set-up is intriguing, on this early showing, there aren’t enough characters to root for, or frights to scare us.
The Rig is a supernatural thriller that plays out on an oil rig off the coast of Scotland, and featuring some of the country’s finest actors, including Iain Glen and Martin Compston.
But while the acting is good, and writer/creator David Macpherson packs a lot into Episode 1’s run-time, most of the characters are barely fleshed out, meaning it’s hard to care about them when the proverbial ____ hits the fan.
It begins with something stirring in the waters beneath the Kinloch Bravo oil rig. But before whatever’s down there rises up, we meet the rig’s crew, and they aren’t a happy bunch. THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW OF EPISODE 1 OF THE RIG ON AMAZON PRIME.
Meet the Kinloch Bravo workers
Even before the horror hits, there’s trouble brewing on Kinloch Bravo. A helicopter set to take the workers home is delayed. While Baz (Calvin Demba) gets bumped from said chopper by corporate rep Rose (Schitt’s Creek Emily Hampshire) in favor or radio operator Fulmer (Line of Duty’s Martin Compston), with whom she’s having a relationship.
So rig boss Magnus (Iain Glen) has a job on his hands keeping his team happy and calm. Especially Hatton (Owen Teale) who seems to be angry with everyone and everything all the time.
Tempers become yet more frayed when TV’s turn off, phone lines go down, and an alarms sound. Which is just the start of problems on Kinloch Bravo.
The Mist becomes The Thing
That’s because while the team is working to fix said power outage, a mist approaches from all around the rig, enveloping those on it, and plunging them into darkness.
The fog eventually vanishes, but seems to have left behind something in its wake. As accidents start occurring, workers start acting strangely, and one of Kinloch Bravo’s number appears to be possessed.
All of which turns the show into a cross between The Mist and The Thing, meaning it will be interesting to see which horror classic The Rig leans into as the season progresses.
Either way, the show will need more scares than this, as while the genre is supernatural horror, there isn’t a single proper scare in this first instalment.
How Edge of Darkness influences The Rig
Another clear influence on The Rig is 1980s TV classic Edge of Darkness – which director Martin Campbell turned into a lesser Mel Gibson movie in the 2000s.
Both iterations were eco-thrillers about the planet fighting back following centuries of abuse, and The Rig looks to have a similar theme.
A climate bill gets discussed on news in an early scene, while there are regular shots of something happening underwater, suggested whatever’s down there isn’t happy with us up here.
One character even states said theme, claiming: “We keep punching holes in the earth, eventually it’s going to punch back.” Suggesting that The Rig is drama, with a conscience.
The Verdict: Is The Rig good?
There’s an early rec room scene in The Rig that introduces characters and delivers exposition. But the characters feel like stereotypes, and that exposition feels clumsy and rushed.
The show is better when director John Strickland is building atmosphere – to both the outage and the mist – but is nevertheless lacking in scares. Which is an issue when your overarching genre is horror.
So it’s a solid start, but here’s hoping that the show ups its game quickly, or The Rig could find itself sinking rather than swimming.
The Rig Episode 1 score: 2/5
Episode 1 of The Rig feels like a mish-mash of other, better aquatic and supernatural horrors. But the cast is good, the setting interesting, and the set-up intriguing, meaning that there’s lots of room for improvement.
The Rig is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, which you can sign up for here.
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