Taglines: In the middle of nowhere there is nowhere to hide.
Rae Ingram (Nicole Kidman), is involved in a car crash which results in the death of her son. Her older husband, a Royal Australian Navy officer John Ingram (Sam Neill), suggests that they help deal with their grief by heading out for a vacation alone on their yacht. In the middle of the Pacific, they encounter a drifting boat that seems to be taking on water. A man, Hughie Warriner (Zane), rows over to the Ingrams’ boat for help. He claims that his boat is sinking and that his companions have all died of food poisoning.
Suspicious of Hughie’s story, John rows over to the other ship, leaving Rae alone with Hughie. Inside, John discovers the mangled corpses of the other passengers and video footage indicating that Hughie may have murdered them in a feat of extraordinary violence. John rushes back to his own boat, but he’s too late as Hughie awakes, knocks out Rae and sails their yacht away, leaving John behind.
As John attempts to keep Hughie’s ship from sinking and catch up with them, Rae awakens and tries to convince Hughie to go back for her husband. Hughie denies her request and keeps on sailing, alternating between kindness and bouts of rage. John manages to get through to his wife on the radio, but the water damage makes him unable to reply save for clicks on his boat’s radio receiver. He can respond only yes or no to her questions. John assures her that he is following close by. Rae tries to stall the yacht by turning off the engine and tossing the keys overboard.
Her dog jumps in to retrieve the keys and brings them back as he had done earlier with his fetch ball. Hughie starts the yacht back up and tries to convince Rae to be friends with him. Rae accepts, attempting to earn his trust. After a while, she goes back to the radar room to contact John. A blip appears on the edge of the radar’s range, signifying the damaged boat. She soon learns that it is too far gone and will sink in the next several hours. With John unable to come to her rescue, Rae assures her husband that she will come back for him. John’s radio shorts before Rae has a chance to tell him that she loves him. Unable to make further contact with him, Rae breaks down and cries.
Hughie comes down to see Rae sobbing, and heads over to soothe her. Rae formulates a plan to seduce Hughie and gain his trust long enough for her to get to the shotgun on deck. She and Hughie start to make out and undress on the floor. Rae stalls for time by telling him that she has to go to the bathroom. She runs on deck to assemble the shotgun, but Ben the dog follows her. Before she has a chance to load the gun, the dog starts barking causing Hughie to go investigate. In a panic, Rae leaves the gun behind and takes cigarettes down with her as an excuse for being on deck.
Dead Calm is a 1989 Australian psychological thriller film starring Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane. It was based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Williams. The film was directed by Australian filmmaker Phillip Noyce and filmed around the Great Barrier Reef. Cinematography by Dean Semler and score composed by Graeme Revell.
The plot focuses on a married couple (Kidman and Neill) who are sailing a yacht through the Pacific. They encounter a damaged boat and a distraught man (Zane). Their efforts to help and investigate lead both the husband and wife into danger.
Dead Calm (1989)
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, Billy Zane, Rod Mullinar, Joshua Tilden, George Shevtsov, Michael Long, Lisa Collins, Paula Hudson-Brinkley
Screenplay by: Terry Hayes
Production Design by: Graham ‘Grace’ Walker
Cinematography by: Dean Semler
Film Editing by: Richard Francis-Bruce
Costume Design by: Norma Moriceau
Art Direction by: Kim Hilder
Music by: Graeme Revell
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: April 7, 1989