A deadly combination of bitey sharks and really dumb characters…
Namely Claire Holt and Mandy Moore’s holidaying sisters Kate and Lisa. The former, and younger of the two is a mildly obnoxious, globe-trotting free spirit. The latter is a recently-single elder sibling determined to prove to herself and her ex that she’s not boring. And what finer way to do so than to dive into shark infested waters in a rusty old cage, dangling from the side of a rickety boat that’s captained by the wholly irresponsible Taylor (Matthew Modine)? No, they’re not the smartest group we’ll meet at the cinema this year, making it difficult to care all too much about their fate, but luckily once they find themselves up shit creek without a paddle, the widely drawn personal drama takes a backseat to their effectively claustrophobic predicament.
Some tongue in cheek foreshadowing signposts the way: A glass of blood red wine tumbles into a pool. A camera spills out of the diving cage and into the dark water below. And most heavy-handed of all, Kate boldly claims that she wishes she could stay swimming with the fishes forever. Well, be careful what you wish for Kate. Because inevitably, the cage takes a tumble to the bottom of the ocean floor, and they’re left stranded with an ever-decreasing supply of oxygen and restricted communication to the now bricking himself Captain Taylor. Which is where the fun begins.
We came for the sharks after all, and sharks we get. For all of its bizarre character choices and signposting that gives away most of the plot twists way in advance, 47 Meters Down is mighty effective at cranking up the tension. It sets out to thrill and the thrills are indeed strong with this one. There are missteps along the way – the sharks serve better as an unseen lurking threat than as an in your face jump scare generator – but the gloomy, close, creeping dread that builds is surprisingly solid considering the mediocre setup.
The title card proudly proclaims the film as Johannes Roberts’ 47 Meters Down, which seems a tad ballsy. It’s hardly John Carpenter’s The Thing, after all. The director does show a confidence in delivering the scares though; with a little more of that confidence spreading towards the storytelling, this could have been more than just a bite size snack.
Rating (out of 5):