June 21, 2017

Movie Review: 47 Meters Down

It seems like shark movies are making a comeback, and no, I am not talking about SyFy outings like Three-Headed Shark Attack, Sharktopus, or even Avalanche Sharks. It appears the killer fish are once again making a killing on the big screen, following the success of last year’s Blake Lively fetish film, The Shallows, we now have 47 Meters Down, and next year we get to see Meg. Is it possible we are seeing the next golden age of sharks to rival the dawn of Jaws? Probably not, and I haven’t seen anything yet to top The Last Shark. Still, The Shallows was decent and I really enjoyed 47 Meters Down. It is far from perfect, but when it is on, it does the deed.

47 Meters Down was directed by Johannes Roberts, he previously helmed decent B-horror flicks Storage 24 and The Expelled. This shark flick is his first film since the simply terrible The Other Side of the Door. He also co-wrote the film with Ernest Riera, who he also teamed with for The Other Side of the Door. What I think makes this film work is the fact they kept it very simple. The story is simple and straightforward story, sure it offers a couple twists in its own way, but it generally stays within itself and doesn’t try to do too much. I like the fact that it held most it in the darkness, let your imagination and panic take over.

The story is a simple one Lisa (Mandy Moore) was recently dumped and is on a Mexican vacation with her younger, more free-spirited sister, Kate (Claire Holt). Kate convinces Lisa to accompany a couple of local guys they just met on a shark diving expedition. Lisa has the right idea about not wanting to be involved, a sentiment that seems even more prescient when they see the rickety boat (captained by Matthew Modine) and even worse shark cage.

Within five minute of being lowered into the water, the cable breaks and the girls sink to a depth of, you guessed it, 47 meters. The majority of the film has the two trapped in the shark cage and freaking out. The tension is ratcheted up as we know they cannot just swim to the surface, lest they get the bends, not to mention the numerous hungry looking sharks that are swimming between them and the surface. Then there is the fact of their rapidly decreasing air supply. It all adds up to some serious tension.

Lisa and Kate go through a number of phases, there are the recurring freak outs, the struggle to regain radio contact with the surface, injuries, all manner of things. It is not something you can really describe in any level of detail without just narrating the film. I will say that it is at its best when they are reacting to the threat at hand, anytime they reflect on themselves or their past, the writing is revealed to be sub par.

I liked 47 Meters Down. The tension built nicely, the situation, while a touch far-fetched, seems believable and easy to believe. Again, my biggest problem with the film is the characters, the female were clearly written by men with no female input whatsoever. Just listen to them, their reason for doing what they are doing and just everything about them, I just hated it. There are a couple other problems too, the foreshadowing was a little too on the nose, if you know what I mean.

In the end, even with its flaws, 47 Meters Down is highly effective. It generates some real tension, has a few legit scares, and while foreshadowing gave it away, there is a moment that seems a touch gimmicky, but remained effective at getting you involved in the fates of these women. It is a movie with experiencing in a theater. It does not reinvent the wheel and may not rank among the best shark films, but it is a serious minded thriller that will make you think twice about touring the depths in search of Great Whites.


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