47 Meters Down, 2017.
Directed by Johannes Roberts.
Starring Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, and Matthew Modine.
Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive.
Stupid people will take unnecessary stupid risks. If one can get past that frustrating concept, there are some tense thrills to be had 47 meters down below the ocean. Basically, the shark-fest opens with two vacationing sisters played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt, with Moore’s Lisa breaking down about her boyfriend leaving her because she’s boring or some shit. I already kinda forgot because I was getting restless waiting to see some bloodthirsty sharks and was annoyed that I was getting two annoying bimbos yapping for 20 minutes with an awful pop soundtrack. After the siblings encounter some of the friendly Mexico locals who seem to enjoy looking at sharks and feeding them from the bottom of the ocean inside safety, sturdy looking metallic cages, they become under the impression that doing this will make Lisa less boring and once again desirable for a relationship.
Here’s the thing, I realize 47 Meters Down needs some kind of reasoning to get these two sisters trapped in claustrophobic, oceanic danger, but it really gets bothersome when they keep bringing it up; “what would he think of you if he saw you like this”. Well gee, he’d probably be concerned that his ex is trapped and about to be torn apart by hungry, insatiable great whites. The script also has many other excruciatingly terrible moments, like characters talking to themselves; “I need to get that wedge”. It’s the kind of dialogue you hear in video games when the playable hero is talking to him or herself to give the player some kind of idea what to do if they appear to be lost. It works for video games, but here, I just want everyone to shut the fuck up and be terrorized by sharks. The sisters can bond, but what logical reason is there is to talk out loud to one’s self, potentially drawing attention?
The good news is that when horror takes center stage, 47 Meters Down is genuinely intense. Every time one of the sisters is forced to leave the sanctuary of the cage (naturally everything goes wrong and the siblings get stuck at the bottom of the ocean), we dread and fear for the lives of these women. To be honest, audiences will probably go back and forth on if they actually want the sisters to live considering that they make some truly stupid decisions throughout the 80 minutes of deep-sea fright, but it still remains engaging.
Part of that is thanks to some surprisingly excellent cinematography, capturing the underwater studio with a strong sense of depth. Characters swim in zoomed out shots seemingly taking forever to increasingly come into clearer focus, and lighting from flashlights on the cage that reflects off of water making for a visually pleasant experience. There is also a genuinely disturbing amount of blood and gore here for a PG-13 film, but really, I wouldn’t have it any other way dealing with some of the most ferocious creatures on Earth.
There is also a very wise plot element of introducing hallucinations, which definitely makes the last-ditch attempt at survival all the more exciting to watch unfold. Also, when the sisters do find themselves endangered and fighting for survival, the direction also manages to thankfully refrain from using sharks constantly. The camera likes to linger on the sisters doing certain small activities related to oxygen masks or searching for necessary objects around the cage, maintaining a sense of unpredictability of when these beasts will actually smell blood and attack. Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all, so it’s nice not knowing exactly when danger is imminent.
Overall, 47 Meters Down is the kind of movie where it’s obvious what audiences are getting. It’s short and to the point, honing in on a select demographic that is already scared of entering the water. This movie will only further cement their fears. However, for those of you that do end up surrounded by sharks for whatever reason, take great notice of what these characters do so you can do the exact opposite. Moviegoers can do much worse at the cinema, and considering that we are dead in the middle of summer, 47 Meters Down is an easy recommendation for cheap underwater scares.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★