Depicting profound solitude and a fight for survival, THE BOAT encompasses a simple foundation that has a lot to offer. Having played at Fantastic Fest this past weekend, this film showcases a unique story (containing nods to Greek mythology through smartly naming the haunted boat Aeolus), that will have you on the edge of your seat with its unpredictability. To incorporate such feelings from films like Dead Calm and Stephan King’s Christine make for a great combination, as you get a little taste of both supernatural horror mixed with action. From start to finish, you will feel chills, tension, and an adventurous sense of desperation.
Written and directed by the father/son team Winston and Joe Azzopardi, THE BOAT tells the story of a lone sailor (also Joe Azzopardi) who finds a vacant vessel adrift at sea, showing no signs of occupancy. Once aboard to check for survivors, he comes to find that his boat has suddenly vanished, leaving him stranded amongst this haunting craft, which appears to have a mind of its own with deadly intentions. The nameless sailor must now fight to survive a force that is as great and vast as the ocean he’s trapped within.
With little to no dialogue being present, this film’s cast is as vacant as the surrounding ambiance. THE BOAT possesses just one actor, which really fuels the lonely atmospheric fire and keeps the film feeling tense and spectral. The looming fog rolls across the waves and circles the nameless sailor, causing suspense and a dreary color palette to match the intensity of the plot. Your mind will change course several times throughout the plot’s duration, keeping things fierce and mysterious as to where the conclusion is headed.
Unlike other action/thrillers out there, this film chose the direction of discovering the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings through body language, facial expressions, and instinctual action. This is one bumpy ride he’s on, with ups and downs that rise and fall like the ocean waves, showcasing moments of weakness and power almost simultaneously through presented situations. The boat itself is almost setting him up for failure to escape, leading him through situations that arise false hopes, followed by immediate dread. Actor Azzopardi portrays all of this greatly through his outdoorsy appearance and sailing know-how that he appears to possess from being a fisherman. You can see every analysis within the motion of his eyes as he makes his face readable like a book towards what he’s about to do.
Being a simple, yet all at once involved story with seldom words needed, THE BOAT hinges upon its chaotic flux and creative content to hook its viewers. The notion of pulling inspirations from B-level horror movies mixed with the classical writings of Homer creates a fresh presence within the genre. Sometimes in filmmaking and storytelling, simplicity is key, allowing the creators endless possibilities in which their film can take its own path and shape.