While Netflix harbors Oscar aspirations for its originals, Tubi appears content being the streaming equivalent of SYFY after midnight. Director Nick Lyon’s Titanic 666 belongs sandwiched between Sharknado 5: Global Swarming and 2 Lava 2 Lantula!, scraping the bottom of digital effects barrels in the name of title-first absurdity. I’ve seen worse films this year than Titanic 666, but also too many better examples, like Deadstream, that deliver past their eye-catching monikers. Titanic 666 skips SYFY’s Saturday premiere slot for Tubi exclusivity, subjecting viewers to the hallmarks of another Asylum special: Shoddy post-production FX, nonsense plots and quality that either intentionally or inadvertently shifts horror to a kind of comedy primed for boozy weekend watches.
It’s been over a century since the Titanic sank, and humanity is ready to once again challenge historical repetition. Captain Celeste Rhoades (Keesha Sharp) readies the Titanic III for its maiden voyage, packed with VIP passengers set to cruise over the sunken gravesite of the original Titanic. Amidst the crowd are influencer couple Mia (AnnaLynne McCord) and Jackson Stone (Derek Yates), security detail Bryan Andrews (Joseph Gatt) and Professor Hal Cochran (Jamie Bamber) with his collection of Titanic artifacts scavenged from the ocean’s floor. Captain Rhoades’ bosses spared no expense recreating the Titanic, which draws a stowaway (Lydia Hearst) who doesn’t seem keen on the idea of exploiting tragedy. She snatches a few of Hal’s trinkets, recites a curse and summons the Titanic’s deceased victims as ghosts out for revenge.
Writers Jacob Cooney and Jason White at least attempt to comment on the grossness of profiting off of disasters in their adrift ghost story. Hearst plays a relative of the Titanic’s captain—who crawls out of a luggage bag that presumably no one checked for human bodies- and heckles Hal for his disrespectful hijacking of private property (desecrated burial ground rules). As far as The Asylum projects go, that’s more socially conscious than, say, 6 Headed Shark Attack. Then again, there’s no way to describe conversational interactions between characters other than “robotically awkward.” Whatever strides are taken to treat Titanic 666 as a voyage doomed by the act of trauma-profiteering is undone by C-grade structures that fail everything from its character development to its horror beats.
Titanic 666 opens on the original Titanic’s post-collision devastation—crashing lifeboats and screaming passengers—which is oddly confident given how everything is computer generated on lower budgets. The Asylum doesn’t spend James Cameron money; green-screen backgrounds are repeatedly atrocious and employed when characters couldn’t be on The Queen Mary in California for filming. Landscape shots of the Titanic III are never physical models, just videogame cutscene graphics not yet on par with new-generation consoles. As per most Asylum projects, expect egregious CGI wherever possible, whether that’s entire capsizing mega-vessels with pixelated deck chairs and crew members, ghostly faces designed like SnapChat filter overlays, or even water rushing down hallways (nay, just dripping from the ceiling). Practical is cheaper in so many cases, yet Titanic 666 brazenly moves forward with a mission to only pay animators for less work on set—a disappointing result put to shame by the likes of Ghost Ship or Triangle.
As per my screenwriting comment above, few cast members are allowed to exist outside made-for-TV stereotypes. McCord and Yates escape unscathed as social media celebrities who play their parts with that signature influencer overconfidence, while Hearst does her job as a stranger with dark arts training who dials the underworld and enjoys tormenting all those aboard the Titanic III. Otherwise, there’s little for performances to grasp. Characters are anything from overserious, emotionless captains to double-crossing ex-Navy Seals who ignore blatant haunted takeovers. It’s a silly film with a stern cast that doesn’t seem keen on playing into the absurdity of something called Titanic 666, which is high on its laundry list of issues.
And don’t expect the paranormal elements to pick up any slack. The Titanic’s spirits manifest as frosty corpses with sunken black eyes and can appear somewhat chilling…until aggressive over-editing ruins everything. Its idea of “horror” equates to exhausting jump scares where ghouls are digitally positioned all around the screen to mimic frantic movement within a few seconds, playing the same no-money haunted tricks that are more dizzying than despicable. All the undead do is breathe virtual breath waves that cause targets to do, well, whatever the screenplay needs. Someone’s mouth bleeds, another stands still for a lifeboat to fall on them, another doesn’t die—scripting seems to stop at “ghosts on a ship” and wings everything else. It’s hard to be scared when the film itself is terrified of letting its own material be authentically frightening.
Titanic 666 sinks before it swims, plunging into the depths where countless other capsized horror films now call their graves. Lyon is never really in command, as the film careens through sequences that struggle to maintain pacing or purpose. Tonality feels suspended between B-movie eccentrics and too-serious deliveries, never finding that sweet spot of midnighter entertainment. Against all odds, Titanic 666 is too dramatic and straight-faced for its own good.
Director: Nick Lyon
Writer: Jacob Cooney, Jason White
Starring: Jamie Bamber, AnnaLynne McCord, Joseph Gatt, Keesha Sharp, Derek Yates, Lydia Hearst
Release Date: April 15, 2022 (Tubi)
Matt Donato is a Los Angeles-based film critic currently published on SlashFilm, Fangoria, Bloody Disgusting, and anywhere else he’s allowed to spread the gospel of Demon Wind. He is also a member of the Hollywood Critics Association. Definitely don’t feed him after midnight.