Sharks. There’s something about them that both terrifies and fascinates a person’s mind about this carnivorous sea creatures. From their outward appearance and portrayal in both real life and in pop culture references, these cold-blooded creatures have existed since the prehistoric era and have diversified into over 500 species, including some common types of sharks such as Great White Sharks, Whale Sharks, and Hammerhead Sharks. In the realm of Hollywood, several features films have been dedicated its main narrative to being on and/or about sharks, including the most iconic one of all Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Jaws. Now, curtailing to the allure of these sea-dwelling predators, Entertainment Studios and director Johannes Roberts present the survival film 47 Meters Down. Does this movie captivate its viewers with its tale or is its mindless dribble?
Synopsis: Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive. (IMDB)
Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire, Holt, and Matthew Modine
Writer: Johannes Roberts
Director: Johannes Roberts
Running Time: 89mins
47 Meters Down is directed by Johannes Roberts, whose previous directing work includes The Other Side of the Door, Storage 24, and F. While this movie isn’t exactly original or even noteworthy, Roberts does succeed on the technical filmmaking side of things. The dark and ominous ocean depths, where the majority of the film takes place, is portrayed as a lifeless and unforgiving realm, projecting a scary and eerie feeling for the two main characters. Also, the low-level light for these underwater scenes helps build tension at certain points, which are usually accompanied by a sudden jump scary tactic (which the movie does have a few). In addition, Roberts uses a lot of close-ups, giving a feeling of claustrophobia and panic as we see the fearful dread on Lisa (Moore) and Kate’s (Holt) faces throughout the entire ordeal. With a runtime of only 89 minutes, the movie moves at a pretty brisk pace and never gets sidetracked with sub-plots, focusing the main narrative on Lisa and Kate and their underwater predicament.
Despite the film’s fleeting moments of several genuine scares and some other elements, 47 Meters Down comes off as both mindless and cheesy. Perhaps the biggest culprit of the movie is its extremely poor storytelling. The film’s script is ultimately stripped to the bare minimum as most (if not all) the characters’ motivations and persona feel both clunky and manufactured rather than robust and organic. It also doesn’t help that the dialogue itself is pretty cheesy to the point where (sometimes) it’s almost laughable. In truth, the entire plot feels incredibly flimsy, especially the film’s first act, which very quickly tries to set up the storylines of Lisa and Kate in a sloppy way, forsaking interest and character development to get to the main plot of the movie. Beyond a few jump scares, there’s little build-up and hardly any reason to care for the characters in the film as the movie moves towards its conclusion. Speaking of conclusion, Roberts does try to throw a curveball into the film’s narrative (in the form of a twist), but it’s a bit unsatisfying and doesn’t really payoff.
It also doesn’t help that the movie feels like a “B-movie” DTV (Direct-to-Video) release. In fact, after doing some research after seeing the movie, it actually was supposed to be. Dimension films, the original distributor for the movie, initially set a release for August 2nd, 2016 on DVD and VOD. However, Dimension sold the rights to the film to Entertainment Studios, who, believing the film to be a strong enough to warrant a chance on the big screen, scrapped the DTV release and set a date for June 16th, 2017; shelving the feature for almost a year. Unfortunately, re-skinning the feature doesn’t help and there is a definitely feeling that 47 Meters Down is a bad B-rated film. In addition, those expecting to see plenty of Sharks in the movie will be disappointed as Roberts uses the presences of Sharks sparingly, which are CGI rendered Sharks (and look like them as well). Personally, the movie definitely feels like one of those DTV movies. Thus, 47 Meters Down, perhaps attempting to be like 2013’s Gravity (underwater instead of space), ultimately ends up being like one of those forgetful DTV films. Heck, even the super cheesy Sharknado movies are even slightly better, for at least those films (stupid as they are) are self-aware of how bad they are, while 47 Meters Down feels lost within ocean depths of its stripped narrative.
Given the limited budget for the movie, 47 Meters Down has a small cast composed mostly of unknown actors and actresses. Normally, this would be fine (nothing wrong with selecting unknowns), but more than half of the characters in the movie are virtually non-existent and barely register as characters at all. Of course, the film’s two main protagonist (Lisa and Kate) get the most screen-time. Both are fine in their respective roles, but, due to the movie’s restrictions and poor script, have little creative material to play around with, which ultimately makes their characters boring and uninteresting, despite being in a life and death struggle. To be honest, most of their screen-time involves the pair explaining their situation and saying what they are going to do, which gets tiresome after a while.
Beyond them, as stated above, the rest of the supporting cast is non-existent and are mostly delegated to serve the film’s narrative, whether that be exposition scenes or moving the plot forward (mostly only in the first 10 minutes of the movie). This includes actors Santiago Segura and Yani Gellman as the pair of locals (Benjamin and Louis) that take a shine to Lisa and Kate and persuade them to go on shark submersion experience, while Matthew Modine plays Captain Taylor. As mentioned, these characters are extremely bland and are only there to help move things forward, lacking any development whatsoever.
Director Johannes Roberts survival drama achieves a sense of dread and panic within its technical aspects, creating an eerie and perilous underwater world as well as keeping the feature moving a brisk pace. Unfortunately, the movie can never escape its B-movie/DTV feeling as the feature is bland and unoriginal, the script is poor and cheesy, and the characters are uninteresting and underdeveloped. Personally, I thought this movie was bad. It has some interesting parts that I liked, but, as a whole, the film only exists for cheap scare thrills and nothing more. Thus, as to be expected, my recommendations for this movie is definitely a hard skip as there’s really no reason to see this movie (even if you’re into sharks or survival style features). Ultimately, 47 Meters Down serves as a warning about why a DTV film should not make the jump to the big screen, especially when the film itself is just as shallow and poorly developed as its characters. All in all, 47 Meters Down isn’t that deep enough to care about.
2.2 Out of 5 (Skip It)
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