12 Feet Deep
MAR VISTA ENTERTAINMENT (2017)
Director: Matt Eskandari
Starring: Alexandra Park, Nora-Jane Noone, Tobin Bell, Diane Farr
Apparently loosely based on true events, 12 Feet Deep is the story of two sisters trapped under the fibreglass cover of a swimming pool, alone and seemingly stuck there for a long holiday weekend.
The story revolves around two sisters, Bree (Noone) and Johnna (Park). Bree is leading a happy life with a good job and a clean living fiancé, whereas Johnna is struggling with her life and has just returned from rehab with no clear direction. Unfortunately, they end up getting trapped underwater while attempting to retrieve Bree's engagement ring from the pool drain. The manager, McGradey (Bell), closes up for the night and unknowingly leaves them stranded.
As the two sisters bicker and pick at each other, it is revealed that Bree is diabetic and without her medication will slip into a coma. On top of this, Johnna has had suicidal thoughts. Salvation appears in the form of cleaner Clara (Farr) but this is short-lived – Clara is an ex-con, struggling to survive life and now sees an opportunity to extort the sisters and build a rod for her own back.
The premise for 12 Feet Deep is certainly an interesting one and works for the first few minutes of the sisters being trapped, the panic and bickering naturally flowing as the situation sinks in. However, this soon wore thin as the revelations began to build up with the intention of adding layers to the characters and intensity. The movie really makes an effort to play up the redemption angle and have the situation be a metaphor for the girl’s relationship, it just isn't particularly successful in doing so.
Clara does not pose the most menacing villain, making odd decisions at seemingly every turn. An antagonist with a conscience is nothing new, but at times she seemed brainless – not calling the cops to save the girls but accepting being an accessory to murder? After being physically wounded by the girls, she soon walks this flesh wound off and seemingly doesn’t want further retribution aside from a quick chlorine assault. The re-appearance at the finale just reeked of bad writing. Tobin Bell is in this! Well, actually, he isn’t. Bell is possibly in the movie for four minutes, mumbling and grumbling his way through his lines before disappearing for the holiday weekend. With only four main characters, it was perhaps necessary to add his name to proceedings to pad out the cast list, but his name is clearly used for audience attraction as anyone could’ve played the role. He still looks as creepy and calculating as ever though.
The underwater shots all look solid and the hushed blue tone of the pool area provides a quiet tension to the proceedings. The girls' hands silhouetting through the cover throughout the movie looked great illuminated against the venue's underwater lighting - though does an indoor pool really need a cover? Outdoor pools yes…
12 Feet Deep looks nice but it didn’t grip me as much as I was led to believe that it would. The actresses try hard with what they were given, Noone coming off better, but the story and beats lacked the emotional thud they were after. Good premise, but the movie failed to stay afloat.
July 25th 2017