Jeffrey Morris’s Oceanus: Act One

Sometimes you stumble across a gem of a short film randomly, one that has big name actors, a well told story, atmosphere and great production value that just happens to be only 20 minutes or so long instead of a feature. Oceanus: Act One is something I’ve seen hovering on IMDb for awhile and I’ve always been curious, and finally a quick google search led me to a Vimeo link.. I’m glad it did. This is the story of a futuristic deep sea exploration crew with a gigantic research base near the bottom of the ocean, their purpose to study potential communication and interaction with different species of whales. When a cataclysmic seismic event disrupts the day to day mission of one scientist (Megan Dodds) alone in a small vessel, she’s thrown vastly off course and must locate her colleague and husband (Sharif Atkins) in another craft, while their commander (Bruce Davison) back down at base tries to bring them in and they are all guided by the AI computer system running their equipment, voiced coolly and evenly by the great Malcolm McDowell. Not only do they find themselves off course of the mission, but when they attempt to breach the surface to get their bearings, they discover something so alarming and terrible it raises the stakes just about as high as they can go, and they find themselves faced with only one option: return back to their base on the depths of the ocean floor with busted navigation equipment and patchy radio communications. With courage, ingenuity and a little surprise miraculous help from some aquatic friends they must journey downwards to the only home they have left. This is all edited together with beautiful CGI, vividly colourful visuals and detailed design of the ships and underwater base, a wonderfully atmospheric electronic score by Jeff Rona that echoes the best work of Cliff Martinez and a sense of urgency, suspense, immediacy and most importantly, genuine wonder, as any film about the depths of the ocean should have. This is titled ‘act one’ and I see on IMDb that a follow up film has been in development for sometime, here’s hoping it finds the money and talent to become a reality because this first act is a blessing in the marine SciFi sub-genre. Available to stream on Vimeo.

-Nate Hill

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