ENTERTAINMENT STUDIOS (2017)

 

Director: Johannes Roberts

 

Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Chris J. Johnson, Yani Gellman, Santiago A. Segura, Matthew Modine

I bloody hate the ocean.

 

Ok, that’s out of the way. Good.

 

47 Meters Down, put simply, is the story of two young women who are trapped in a shark cage that has plunged into the depths of the evil ocean…forty-seven metres below the surface, actually. As they’re in a shark cage, obviously there are sharks lurking. Big bastard sharks, in fact. Big bastard sharks that fancy feasting on some female flesh.

The two ladies in question are Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Holt), sisters holidaying in the fine weather of Mexico. In Kate’s place should’ve been Lisa’s boyfriend Stuart, but he’s a tool who accused her being boring and broke up with her. Men…

 

To cheer her sister up, Kate takes her out for an all-night drinking and dancing session – which is always guaranteed to provide some plot beats. As it is, they meet a couple of local dudes with greased hair who promise the girls some shark cage action in the morning. Kate is more than up for it, however Lisa has to be persuaded and eventually uses Stuart’s cruel words as an inspiration to live a little. When it’s time for the adventure, the girls are taken to a boat belonging to Captain Taylor (Modine) who explains the process of retaining oxygen and informs them they’ll be in the shark-infested waters for five minutes. The waters weren’t infested until he illegally chummed then, but still.

 

The local greasers enter the cage first and when they vacate, it’s time for Lisa and Kate to step into the evil ocean and into the confines of the rickety cage. With huge sharks circling, unfortunately the cable holding the cage snaps, sending the two girls hurtling towards the depths of the ocean. Out of communication range and with their oxygen levels quickly depleting, they’ll need to work together to contact the ship and get to safety.

 

Riding on the success of 2016’s The Shallows, 47 Meters Down in the next movie designed to put me, and many others, off of venturing into the evil deep blue sea. Using close-ups and the murkiness of the ocean, the movie attempts to grip the viewer with claustrophobia and a rising tension. We know the sharks are out there, but we can’t see where. The use of a lurking dread is nothing new, but it is generally effective when utilised correctly and this movie does well in that respect – there are moments that seem to fall into cliché as you wait for something to emerge from the dark, but it never does. It goes without saying that there are jump scares, but they are few and far between. The music utilised in the film is fantastic and really adds to the on-screen proceedings.

 

Utilising visuals well, the underwater scenes pulsate with a phantom fear. Lit only by the lantern on their redundant cage, everything around the girls is pitch black. When the evil sharks do show up, it’s not until the last second that they become fully visible so you never quite know when Sharky is going to turn up for his feminine feast. Switching from the glamour of the Dominican Republic to the extra glamour of underwater tanks in Basildon never looked so good…

 

Moore and Holt are solid in their respective roles, which are mainly looking scared and panicking, but they carry the movie well. Unlike The Shallows, there are no particularly gratuitous bikini/body shots of the women, it’s all a bit less sexual and more focused. The supporting cast is literally just that, there to fill up the frames.

 

The issue with the movie lies with the script. It isn’t very good. The relationship between the sisters is typical and how they bond throughout the situations is a strand that has been done to death, and done more effectively elsewhere. A movie like 47 Meters Down is mired in B-movie goodness, and shouldn’t be expected surely to have groundbreaking writing? Not after groundbreaking, just decent. The movie relies greatly on its visual execution as opposed to its writing, and had the two been on an equal level, the movie would’ve been more successful for it. That said, the extra threat of the oxygen running out was a component that was never ignored thankfully (similar to the rising tide of The Shallows)

 

I enjoyed the ending, which is not something I usually do with movies like this, but I feel it was satisfying and justified certain events that had come before. It added a little bit of realism to proceedings. A little bit. As for the flashlights and flares, not so much. Add on top of that the issues surrounding authenticity of oxygen levels and not suffering ruptured eardrums from the initial plummet and the movie ends up taking a lot of artistic liberties.

 

Also, how could the girls communicate with their ears uncovered by the masks?

 

47 Meters Down is certainly not the new Jaws. It’s not quite the new The Shallows. But it IS better than Sharknado and Deep Blue Sea (minus the scene of Sam Jackson getting chomped, of course)

 

Entertaining but forgettable.

September 2nd 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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