You know what I find strange. A lot of people love shark movies. Even people who hate horror films tend to go crazy for shark films. I’ve never understood that; particularly because most of them kind of suck. We have the amazing Jaws and the good B-Movie thrill rides Deep Blue Sea and The Shallows, but other than that what do we have. There all pretty bad outside of that. Sure, we get interesting or entertaining bad – like Open Water or Bait 3D – but most overs are just terrible – like Shark Attack, Shark Night 3D and Jaws the Revenge.
The reason I bring this up is because I have still yet to understand the hype behind the new finned-fiend thriller, 47 Meters Down.
To be fair, we do have an interesting premise here. Two sisters on holiday in Mexico go cage diving with the great white sharks. But when the chain snaps, the two find themselves trapped at the bottom of the ocean – you know, I’ve forgotten the depth. A shame it’s not sign posted for us. The two are low on oxygen, the cage is a death-trap and any attempt to leave puts them in chewing range of the sharks. They must use their wits and ability to work as a team to reach the surface and avoid a toothy demise. It’s not bad at all really. There’s just one problem. This is meant to go on for 90 minutes.
This film was directed by Johannes Roberts. No, I had not heard of him before either. But I had to mention the fact, because the title to this film is not simply 47 Meters Down – no, it’s Johannes Roberts’ 47 Meters Down.
Clearly this man is proud of this film. And after doing some research I think I know why. It’s because every other film he has made before this got lower than the 5.0 mark or IMDb. That alone should give you an indication of what you are in for with this film.
The directing is extremely lacking, even if what was attempted is commendable. These actresses had to spend most of the film actually underwater. Just imagine the stress and strain that must have had on everyone involved. Also, coupled with the creative premise are some fairly effective moments. I did like the use of the ocean murk, hiding the sharks from view until you are in striking range. But what doesn’t help is the films awful cinematography and even worse editing. This isn’t like Taken 3, where you get twenty cuts when Neeson is jumping a fence. But no shot feels like it’s the correct length. It’s always either too long – some were so never ending that I almost felt like screaming “cut” at the screen – and others are too short that it’s impossible to tell what you were supposed to be looking at.
The opening sets the tone for this; there’s a shot that feels like it lasts and age where a woman is sitting on an inflatable chair in a pool, a glass of red wine in her hand. We know what’s going to happen, something’s going to make her drop it and the blue water shall run red. But when it finally happens, the shot changes to a less effective shot of the wine in the pool. We have the sisters argue for a minute, one leaves as her sister comments on how nice her ass is – and then we randomly cut back to the red water as the title comes up. It’s such a bizarre scene that perfectly demonstrates what the rest of the film is like. I guess in that regard it was effective then, so I could almost applaud that.
Our characters are played by Mandy Moore, the princess from Tangled, and Claire Holt, the barging-value Emma Roberts. Once the two of them reach the depth stated in the title they are serviceable. Nothing great but nothing terrible. Before then, and it is possible that blame belongs to the script or Johannes Roberts, but they were both awful. I remember thinking to myself, as I waited twenty minutes for the chain to snap, that if we didn’t see the sharks soon then I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t shout at the screen to get a move on. Which does bring me onto a major problem with this film.
The concept is good, but Roberts seemingly cannot find a way to drag this story out to a feature length. Instead he just attempts to pad the film out with filler. It’s twenty minutes before the story really gets going (or feels it at any rate), but when we get there we’re just sat waiting for the sharks to attack while the film gets padded out with melodrama. We get the typical sibling rivalry plot line and how one sister is exciting and the other is boring and must learn to come out of her shell more. Normally this can drag out, but here we have only these two to follow, so between the shark moments the film really drags on. Especially when they are in the cage, as we are explicitly told that the sharks cannot get them in the cage. We therefore know the drill, and can therefore only feel any tension when they are outside of the cage. Although, to be fair they come out of that cage a stupid amount of times.
Even then though, the tension is just made because the only scares in this film are jump scares. I hate jump scares. I don’t find them scary. Startling, yes, but it doesn’t take a lot to startle me. I get startled when I’m reading in the garden and a cricket jumps on me – of course I’m going to jump when a really fake looking shark jumps out of nowhere and the musician suddenly leans on his keyboard. But the thing is, as soon as I have jumped then there is no tension left in the scene. It has blown its load and has nothing left to offer. Speaking of peaking early, depending on your mind-set the ending will completely lose you. Without wishing to spoil, not that I’d be spoiling much, the ending feels like a watered-down rip of the ending to The Descent.
But where The Decent leaves you with a foreboding feeling of dread and depression, fitting in perfectly with the tone of the film, 47 Meters Down feels like Roberts missed the point. It’s out of nowhere and is actually very predictable, thanks to how the dialogue before it hammers the point in.
47 Meters Down isn’t without its moments. It’s just mishandled. If this was done by someone like Jaume Collet-Serra (director of The Shallows) or Neil Marshall (The Decent), then maybe we would have something scary and entertaining. As is it’s not an awful film. I don’t feel angered by it, and I don’t feel like it’d make for an engaging rant. It’s mostly just dull. The occasional creepy image, or even the odd hilarious shot or dialogue aren’t enough to save this one from sinking. It’s definitely better than the likes of Sharknado and Shark Night 3D, but only see it if you are a huge fan of these films. Even then, wait for it on Netflix or Prime, don’t waste your money.