“Fuck you, it’s January!” – Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman of Redlettermedia. This is a reference to the idea that movie studios dump their garbage in earliest and least attended month of the year, January. However, not everything that lands in this month is total trash, or maybe my expectations are so low that some of these January movies jump out as really enjoyable. That is what I think of Underwater. I really enjoyed it.
Starring Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, and T.J. Miller, the film takes place, you guessed it, underwater. In the deepest part of of our ocean actually. The crew is on a rig, which is drilling into the Marianas Trench, that is hit with an earthquake that devastates the facility and they must escape. A very simple premise which will eventually add a deeper mystery later into the film. The first minutes of the film see our crew crawling through tight places trying to get to anything that will take them to the surface. It seems like the film will take place in these dark hallways but eventually makes it way on the ocean floor. Then the monsters appear!
What really makes the film fun is how quickly it takes off. Within minutes of sitting down, the facility is torn apart and the film dives right into the danger. This does take away a little bit of character building for the opening of a film, which would generally show us our characters in situations so that we know how they think and may act. This does happen throughout the films runtime instead, but it is a failure of the film, we never really get to know our characters. They are all either tropes or what we expect of the actor. J.T. Miller is doing his bits, Stewart looks uneasy, the Captain does “captainy” things, the black guy dies, but these are really the only negative things I have to say about the film.
The film takes a few minutes to ask the question, “Why the hell are we down here?” Stewart’s character encounters a spider while brushing her teeth in the first few minutes of the film and asks it how it got down there as she rescues it from the sink it cannot find its way out of. The message is repeated a few times in the films runtime and seems to hint at the films themes. It isn’t an environmental message that has anything to do with pollution or climate change but more, WHY DID WE COME ALL THE WAY DOWN HERE TO A PLACE HUMANS SHOULD NOT BE!
The film shines in display of the underwater scenes themselves and following the simple rules of a monster film, DON’T SHOW THE MONSTER UNTIL YOU NEED TO. This works out greatly as if walking across the ocean floor didn’t scare you enough. I really enjoyed 47 Meters Down for the same reasons. The film does a great job escalating the tension and reveals of what is happening to the very end, giving us an ending that is predictable but not any less satisfying. It takes a few pages from the Lovecraftian horror book and inserts them in a way that is surprising and terrifying. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of horror, especially sci-fi horror and anyone who thinks the parts of our planet that remain mostly unexplored are frightening to even think about.