This overlooked 2023 disaster movie is Netflix’s newest hit right now. Here’s why you should watch it

A town is destroyed in The Abyss.
A town is destroyed in The Abyss.

When Netflix recently added The Abyss to its lineup, there probably weren’t very high expectations for it. After all, it’s not James Cameron’s The Abyss from 1989. Instead, it’s a Swedish disaster film that is now one of the most popular movies on Netflix.

That’s the thing about Netflix’s algorithm: It’s very unpredictable. More often then not, seemingly random films are suddenly more popular now than they ever were when they hit theaters. In this case, American audiences would have never seen The Abyss if it hadn’t suddenly arrived on a large platform like Netflix. But if you’re on the fence about checking it out, here are three reasons to watch The Abyss on Netflix.

Tuva Novotny grounds the movie with her performance

Tuva Novotny in The Abyss.
Tuva Novotny in The Abyss.

Disaster movies only work if the audience cares about the characters who are in jeopardy. And the best films in this genre need at least one performance at the heart of the movie that the audience can gravitate toward. In this movie, that’s exactly what Tuva Novotny provides. Aside from her turn in Annihilation, Novotny is largely unknown in American cinema despite a long list of credits in her home country. That works out in favor of The Abyss, because it’s easy to accept her as Frigga Vibenius, the security manager of the Kiirunavaara mine and a woman whose family life is disintegrating.

For all of the turmoil in her personal life, Frigga is very good at her job. She treats the unfolding disaster seriously, and Frigga even gets to be the hero that her town and her family need. And Frigga does it without becoming some cartoon movie hero. She’s simply someone who steps up when she has to.

It’s a family drama first

Two people look at each other in The Abyss.
Two people look at each other in The Abyss.

There’s something ironic about the way that the town is shaking itself to pieces while Frigga’s personal life is also in turmoil. She can do something about the former, but it’s a lot harder to handle the latter. Frigga has already split with her husband, Tage (Peter Franzen), and clashed with her daughter, Mica (Felicia Maxime), over the mine. The only one who offers Frigga any emotional support is her new boyfriend, Dabir (Kardo Razzazi), and he has no idea what kind of drama he just stepped into.

The one thing that unites this family is concern about Frigga and Tage’s son, Simon (Edvin Ryding, who appears in the hit Netflix show Young Royals), who goes missing just as the town suffers the disaster that will finally destroy it. And before the Vibenius family can flee, they have to find Simon.

The disaster unfolds realistically

The Abyss | Official trailer | Netflix

One thing is for certain: The Abyss is not a Roland Emmerich movie. The laws of physics are obeyed, and there’s an actual phenomenon behind the collapsing town. The owners of the Kiirunavaara mine are responsible because they overmined the structures beneath the city and destabilized the entire town of Kiruna. Now, rock bursts are tearing the town apart, and it’s happening more quickly than anyone was prepared for.

Of course, the entire reason why people watch disaster movies is to see the disaster unfold. And you will. It’s just not going to look like Independence Day or more recent American disaster flicks. That’s likely ebcause the budget of The Abyss was a lot less than Hollywood’s blockbusters, and practical effects outnumber any CGI trickery in the film. But in this case, less is more.

Watch The Abyss on Netflix.