Director: Johannes Roberts
Cast: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine.
Running Time: 89 minutes
Release Date: 26th July
There is an opening sequence synonymous with shark films – an underwater shot looking up at a figure swimming/floating on the surface. 47 Metres Down opens in this traditional way, featuring a figure floating on a lilo holding a red drink. Plot twist! She is flipped into what is revealed to be a swimming pool. However, her red cocktail disperses through the water like blood, suggesting that while she may be safe now, she won’t be for long. To emphasise this, the words ‘47 Metres Down’ appear across the screen in blood-red writing. This opening sets the tone accurately – 47 Metres Down is not subtle.
It has been a long time since I’ve wanted to jump into a cinema screen and physically shake the characters, but 47 Metres Down provokes that level of frustration early on. Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are two sisters on holiday in Mexico. Lisa’s motivation for the holiday is to prove to her ex-boyfriend that she isn’t ‘boring’, to win him back, which isn’t remotely problematic. Kate uses this to emotionally blackmail her into going shark cage diving, despite multiple warning signs that this is a bad idea, and because apparently that is the only reason the writers could conceive for two women to want to go on an adventure. Surprisingly, things go wrong and the pair end up at the bottom of the ocean, with circling sharks and depleting oxygen tanks. If ever a plot was designed to prove why you shouldn’t do things just to impress people, this is it.
47 Metres Down performs well at creating tension. The sense of foreboding that builds before the women get in the water escalates neatly. From fraying cords to lingering close-ups of the rusted cage, our nerves are fraught even before the cage drops. There are good jump scares, and though the continuous foreshadowing lacks subtlety, it heightens the tension dramatically. It is a new premise for a classic shark film, and the plot provides multiple plausible reasons for the girls to leave the safety of the cage.
Unfortunately, the weak script squanders the film’s talent and premise. Moore and Holt do their best with what they’ve been given: their fear and panic is well-performed, and their chemistry as sisters is believable. However, their performances cannot make up for the limited character development. The anxious (and often irritating) Lisa conquers her fears, and there is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it attempt at delving into the sisters’ relationship. However, their dialogue is limited to discussing their predicament, and Lisa’s previous relationship – even when they’re surrounded by sharks at the bottom of the ocean. Excellent priorities.
Though it has a running time of just under an hour and a half, the narrative feels dragged out. The ‘twists’ are easily spotted, and the ending will definitely divide viewers.
47 Metres Down functions well as a cautionary tale about not booking cheap, shady holiday trips – especially when open water/sharks are involved – but that’s about it. On paper, it has the potential to put a novel twist on a well-loved genre, but unfortunately doesn’t manage to deliver.