47 Meters Down (Entertainment Studios, PG-13)

This movie isn’t worth anyone’s time.

Before going in to see this movie, I had a variety of low expectations. Remarkably, all of them were met. Some bad movies can be kind of stimulating for their strangeness. 47 Meters Down is like one of those, but I’m still not really sure what to take from it at the end of the day. There were some funny moments, bad acting, obvious plot-turns, but none more than the other. Actually, at the start, I started to think I might be completely mistaken by thinking I was in for a stinker. While nothing too impressive, the underwater photography shown in the very first shot and throughout is well done; appropriately dark and gloomy, rich, full of creepy-crawly shadow places. The score is very memorable and ominous, and the titles were done in the red, wavy block letters reminiscent of 80s marine-horror movies. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt begin with very good chemistry and passable acting ability, playing sisters Lisa and Kate on a vacation in Mexico. However, when persuaded by well-meaning local boys to go scuba-diving with the sharks, the sisters are accosted by three things: a faulty lever system that drops their cage to the ocean floor, bloodthirsty Great Whites, and saltwater, which I assume contact with somehow caused them to turn into terrible actors.

As soon as the scenario that is promised by the premise begins, the movie falls apart, whereas it was doing just fine in exposition. Suddenly Mandy Moore, never an Oscar-winner but capable and talented nonetheless, completely loses all her chops, and Holt, more of an actor’s actor, gets pulled down to her level (pun intended). Obviously, most of the dialogue was recorded in post due to the constraints of filming underwater. So it seems as if the actors weren’t able to replicate the genuine terror or sincerity that they may or may not have possessed during the actual filming.

The special effects were shoddier than everything else, which is disappointing, considering that’s to be expected, and is the least interesting way to be bad in cinema. Although it does boggle the mind that a movie with nothing but dark sea-water and two restricted, uncharismatic characters would put so little effort into the selling point of the whole thing. By keeping the sharks hidden most of the time (smart choice, as surprising as that is), they’re able to step around the clunkiness of the CGI. But the other effects meant to make the surroundings look realistic, and which are ever-present, such as fish, debris, and little bits of algae floating around, are so poorly done that it’s a wonder that the studio passed it through. The particle-effects on the sea-dust (or whatever that beige, floaty stuff in underwater movies is) look like they’re glitching out sometimes, and the fish look like they come from an early-2000s video game.  

If these major facets of the movie weren’t so criminally neglected, I feel like we could have had another Phone Booth. Remember Phone Booth? That movie where Colin Farrell is trapped in a phone booth on a call with a sniper who threatens to kill him if he refuses any order? That’s the kind of movie we’re introduced to here. Phone Booth, by no means perfect, manages to fill the entire run time with constant development and keeps things interesting while never leaving its 4-square-foot location. 47 Meters Down squanders this  type of premise by making the characters unbelievably dumb and prone to making nonsensical decisions, and by having them do it over and over again until it’s time to wrap up. So even if I got a few good laughs and enjoyed some visual/aural aspects, this movie isn’t worth anyone’s time. | Nic Champion

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