One thing you have to realize is that Dead Calm is not a thriller that is full of twists and turns. There won't be that many surprises. Instead it relies on events full of tension and dread. This is done so well that you will have fun throughout.
But that doesn't mean the film is without flaws. There are a few times you will scratch your head and is asked of you to suspend disbelief. I think most thrillers depend on that so for the fan this won't be much of a problem. Although that won't prevent you from shaking your head a few times. Especially when it comes to a certain furry fella. Let's just say that sometimes it is very warranted to slit throats. (Click on the show / hide button for more. Be warned though it contains spoilers!)
"The dog Benji doesn't hesitate to betray his owners when the cards have turned. He on a whim is totally loyal and devoted to Hughie (Billy Zane) and foils actions and plans Rae (Nicole Kidman) comes up with. In a way Benji is more evil than Hughie."
The acting is superb. All the actors take things seriously and is essentially what makes you buy the terror two of them are facing. Nicole Kidman as Rae is a character you are going to root for. And same goes for Sam Neill as John Ingram. One vital decision on his part seems illogical and a little convenient but it is necessary otherwise the film would be over in a heartbeat. The whole premise of the film would be destroyed and we can't have that now can we? Billy Zane as Hughie shows a versatility very much needed for his role. It's a shame that an actor of his caliber and talent is not recognized as such. (Nicole Kidman does look very different from now. Of course she is younger here and before she got subjected to the sickness that is plastic surgery.)
Dead Calm still holds up today and is a very good example of the magnificence that was the Eighties. and Philip Noyce's directing. He knows how to infuse suspense and tension without having to rely on crazy twists and turns. So do watch it if you have never seen it before.