47 Meters Down (2017)

Starring Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine

Directed by Johannes Roberts


Lisa (Mandy Moore) has just been dumped. She’s feeling pretty down about it, so she decides to cheer herself up by taking a tropical vacation with her sister, Kate (Claire Holt). They do all the things single young ladies on holiday are likely to do – beach time, shopping, and checking out the night life.

It’s at a fun seaside bar where they meet a pair of handsome locals, Louis (Yani Gellman) and Benjamin (Santiago Segura). Louis is instantly attracted to Lisa. He wants to spend more time with her. He tells the girls that he and his friend work on a dive-boat and encourages them to give it a try the next day. Lisa has no diving experience and some reservations, but Kate and everyone else is game – so, off they go.

On the boat they meet Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine), who gives them a brief rundown of how the adventure should unfold: gorgeous underwater views, colorful coral, pretty fishies, and some sharks – but they will be safely confined to a metal cage, so there’s no real danger.

They go for it hook, line, and sinker.

But of course, this is a horror movie, so things go quickly awry. The cable securing their cage to the boat snaps as they’re being lowered, and Lisa and Kate are plunged 47 meters down to the ocean floor – surrounded by hungry predators. Other very real terrors include the fact they have a limited oxygen supply; they risk nitrogen poisoning, which causes hallucinations, and even if they do manage to get toward the surface, they could very well get the bends and die from that.

While the movie is not perfect – the negatives include all-CGI great whites, jump scares, and characters who yell and scream while deep underwater – it’s a very serviceable thriller. The sharks themselves are just hungry beasts. There are not depicted as having any agenda, nor being of super-shark intellect. Which is almost scarier, because it’s not “personal,” and how do you fight against that?

There’s plenty of tension and a lot of opportunities for the audience to ask themselves what they’d do in a similar situation. The acting is quite good, and the setting is eerie. The horror element is augmented by a brilliant electronic tomandandy score. The cinematography lends itself to the idea that it really is an elegant, yet alien landscape beneath the sea, and it is not a human’s natural environment. There are definitely some components of the space-thriller Gravity here.

Fans of Jaws, Piranha, Orca, and other horror movies that amp up the terror aspect might be disappointed. But 47 Meters Down should please folks who want to see a suspenseful, simple story about survival against all odds.

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Staci Layne Wilson

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