’47 Meters Down’ Has An Unexpected Bite
It seems like shark movies are everywhere in recent years. Most of them have been regulated to the V.O.D. and direct to DVD market. Occasionally, one will make it to wide theater release. Last year, it was the tension-filled The Shallows. This year, filmgoers will get another sharky surprise with 47 Meters Down.
47 Meters Down is about two sisters who end up trapped in a shark cage forty-seven meters below the surface of shark-infested waters with only an hour of oxygen left. We watch as the sisters overcome a number of obstacles in an effort to survive the ordeal. In all honesty, I did not expect much from this film going in. To my surprise, I found the direction, performances, and story entertaining.
The first act is an introduction to the sisters; the adventurous Kate, played by Claire Holt and the more hesitant Lisa, played by Mandy Moore. These two played well off each other and their relationship felt real. I was a bit concerned that the film would dwell overlong on the backstory for Lisa who is suffering from a bad break up, but it doesn’t. Instead, the subject is only brought up when it is used as motivation by Kate to get Lisa to be more daring.
Holt and Moore spend two-thirds of the film underwater in large scuba masks that allow them to talk to each other. It could not have been easy to perform under these conditions but they manage to pull off some very emotional moments. I also enjoyed how they would go back and forth taking turns at being the stronger person depending on the situation. The movie never leaves the side if the sisters and puts the audience in the same place as the characters. The atmosphere of tension and uncertainty of survival was a consistent presence.
From the minute the cage drops into the water until the credits roll, Director Johannes Roberts manages to maintain a feeling of danger for the audience. At no point does audience get a chance to relax and breathe a sigh of relief. The pace of the story and the cinematography did a great job building up these uncomfortable feelings. In one scene, Kate swims out and away from the cage and soon realizes the visibility is very limited. She finds herself lost in water where a shark can appear at any moment. There were a few jump scares but they did not take me out of the story.
As the film neared the climax, it seemed to fall upon a few of the common shark film tropes, making the necessary suspension of disbelief a bit more difficult, but this was used for an intentional purpose that doesn’t disappoint. There are some moments along the way that will be surprising, and other moments that may have your eyes rolling, but it is worth the trip. I really enjoyed a shot involving three sharks and a flare, even though it was a bit cheesy it looked great.
On the surface, 47 Meters Down may seem like your average shark film but if you dive in you will find a thrilling, tension-fille thriller that will have you checking your own oxygen tank. It rises above many of the other films in this genre.