When Susan is finally won over by the lure of the sea, she discovers some troubling elements to this supposed “piece of cake” voyage. The boat is not as seaworthy as its pretty exterior might suggest. The captain of the expedition, Rick (Jon Pennell), is lacking in leadership skills; and he has brought along his girlfriend, Allie (Susan Walters), whose only function is to share his bunk and sunbathe on deck. And the crew also happens to include Susan’s old hometown beau, Jason (Jonathan Brandis of “Seaquest DSV”), who has never lost the torch for his childhood sweetheart.
Since all aspects of these human relationships are superficial at best, the true star of this vidpic is the Pacific Ocean, which becomes increasingly more dominant to the proceedings as the crew begins its journey north. Director Dick Lowry, aided immeasurably by the camera work of Steven Fierberg and the editing of Scott Powell, masterfully chronicles the increasing on-board tension as Rick’s deficient seamanship is compounded by a devastating offshore storm that eventually sinks the boat, casting adrift the crew on a small raft with no food or water.
It is no surprise, and of little interest, that the two morally corrupt members of the crew, Rick and Matt, are driven mad and eventually devoured by the sea, and that victim-in-life Allie will die of exposure. So little had been invested in these characters by the writer and director, their individual passings become merely a countdown to the title, “Two Came Back.” And the climactic rescue evokes only the feeling of relief that this voyage-from-hell is finally over.
Despite the lack of dramatic tension, the performances are uniformly excellent. Complementing Hart’s Susan, Brandis is outstanding as Jason, who manages to find a balance between demonstrating his character’s excellent seamanship and his never-ceasing inner turmoil over his lost love. Sullivan’s angst-ridden Patricia is thoroughly believable, especially when she is hounding the Coast Guard to find her daughter. Also deserving praise is Walters, whose Allie evokes the sense of a worthwhile human being who was never given a chance.