Genre: Horror and Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016 MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Johannes Roberts Actors: Mandy Moore, Matthew Modine, Claire Holt, Yani Gellman, Santiago Segura, Chris J. Johnson
isa (Mandy Moore) takes her sister Kate (Claire Holt) on vacation to a tropical Mexican paradise – instead of her boyfriend Stuart, who recently broke up with her due to boredom. After sulkily admitting to the separation, Lisa is whisked to a late night party on the beach, where they meet a couple of local guys who suggest that, for the bargain price of $100 each, they can go out onto the water to scuba dive with sharks. Despite the concierge warning them about shady tourist activities not conducted in large groups, the sisters venture toward a bigger boat, the Sea Esta, captained by Taylor (Matthew Modine), who has a shark cage awaiting – ready for the ultimate close-encounter thrill ride.
It doesn’t speak to the cleverness of the script that the girls really just want a singular selfie, though it does firmly place “47 Meters Down” (previously titled “In the Deep” for an intended straight-to-DVD release that, due to the success of “The Shallows,” was canceled in favor of a theatrical exhibition) into a world of modernity and pop music-narrated montages. Perhaps added realism comes with the basic setup, which finds two young girls piling into a strange boat with a gang of strange men, after making no preparations and acquiring zero knowledge about their spontaneous adventure. “Does my butt at least look cute in this?” The characters and the dialogue are either incredibly authentic or incredibly stupid. And when the girls get a bit of alone-time for reflection on their lives (an easy thing to do when stranded at the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by hungry sharks), they blather about popularity and boys – again, a sensible conversation were it not for their location in a cold, dark, man-eater feeding ground.
Accidentally spilling a red cocktail into a resort pool foreshadows the shark-based horrors to come, though the real scares come from general idiocy. If this was were intended more as a cautionary tale for naive tourists than a thriller of extreme coincidences, it might have been scarier. But nothing dulls the chills like victims deserving of their fates or unlikely circumstances compounded by disappointing contrivances. Even if audiences accept that things always go wrong in these kinds of films, the scenarios are still overly dramatic or just too convenient.
To the film’s credit, the cinematography is crystal clear and the environments appear entirely believable. Even the computer-generated sharks are rather impressive. To embellish the main source of fright, “47 Meters Down” also features a faulty winch mechanism, dwindling oxygen supplies, limited visibility and communications, the possibility of abandonment, disorientation and nitrogen narcosis, temporary immobility, false rescue hopes, that classic deep-sea problem of decompression sickness, and shark jump-scares. But instead of using these tools of terror sparingly and in credible ways, they pop up so frequently and regularly that the girls’ plight feels manufactured rather than natural. Fortunately, the panic is relatable (though repetitive), and it must be applauded that the sharks aren’t super-smart or genetically-enhanced. Additionally, this might be one of the only films to boast a twist ending that is then revealed to be inconsequential to the actual resolution. It’s not enough, however, to make a truly worthwhile picture.
– Mike Massie