Director: Matt Eskandari


Starring: Nora-Jane Noone, Alexandra Park, Diane Farr, Tobin Bell

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.


Bree (Noone) is living the dream, she has a good job and a clean living fiancé whereas her sister, Johnna (Park), doesn’t have the same luck. She’s troubled and just returned from rehab with no direction in life. Swimming makes everything better, except for these two who find themselves trapped after attempting to retrieve Bree’s engagement ring from the pool drain. Impatient and miserable manager McGradey (Bell) hasn’t realised people are still underwater as he closes up for the night and unleashes the pool cover, ensuring a wet and uncertain night ahead.

As the two sisters bicker and pick at each other, it is revealed that Bree is actually diabetic and without her shot will slip into a coma. On top of this, Johnna is apparently suicidal. Their family parties must be a hoot. 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. Time for some torture ladies.


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. If someone was as much of an arse as Johnnah was, I’d drown them. The movie really goes to town in an attempt to play up the redemption game, and have the situation be a metaphor for the girl’s relationship.


Clara seemed a strange person in general, making odd decisions at every turn. An antagonist with a conscience is nothing new, but at times she seemed brainless – mustn’t call the cops to save the girls but being an accessory to murder is fine. 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 denouement 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 creepy and calculating as ever though.


The underwater shots all look great in their silence and serenity (but Eskandari makes sure to get the money shots for the males) and the hushed blue tone of the pool area provides a quiet tension to proceedings, an almost horror-like location – the abandoned pool with patriotic but grubby bunting overhead. The girls' hands silhouetting through the cover look great illuminated against the underwater lighting. Does an indoor pool really need a cover though? 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 have, 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