After the success of 2017’s The Shallows, shark movies are having something of a resurgence, with 3 set for release this year: Open Water 3: Cage Dive (with a very limited release and no confirmed UK release yet!), 47 Meters Down, and of course Sharknado 5.
Never fully away from the public’s consciousness, every shark film since, has owed a huge amount to Jaws, but of course we are now living in an age where perhaps sharks are not the feared beast they were in the summer of 1975. So often the laughing stock of cinema, shark movies have settled comfortably in the realm of B-movie fodder, with straight-to-SyFy shark movies being the most commonplace. However, the aforementioned The Shallows restored some credibility to the genre, and proved it could still be a draw on the big screen.
47 Meters Down aims to continue this, and whilst flawed, it is unquestionably not without merit. So often in shark movies, the sharks themselves are not given the best CGI treatment, but in this film, for the most part the CGI sharks look pretty good. It’s a low-budget movie and that shows in the somewhat limited set up and scope, but the sharks themselves are good enough to make the terrible graphics of the Sharknado movies a distant memory!
It’s premise is perhaps more exciting than the overall execution; two sisters are left fighting for their lives when a cage diving trip goes disastrously wrong, leaving them plummeting to the ocean floor in shark infested waters. The depths of the ocean haven’t been explored much in shark movies before which opens this film up to opportunities to have sharks emerging from the near-pitch black surroundings, resulting in some pretty decent jump-scares.
Unfortunately the execution is what lets this film down, with the dialogue between the characters being weak and repetitive. The characters are likeable enough, particularly Mandy Moore’s Lisa, but their questionable logic and lack of depth (unintentional pun!) ultimately might leave you cheering on the sharks rather than them. Whilst it is commendable that the film tries to create fear through many different aspects other than the sharks (their air tanks running out, the threat of getting “the bends” if they swim to the surface), there’s no escaping that the sharks are what we’re here for and sadly they’re a little underutilised. It’s a relatively short film, but there’s long sequences of repetitive dialogue, with the character’s constantly reporting on the current status of their air tanks (which we can see so we don’t need to be told!), and every now and again a shark shows up to make things a little more exciting.
There’s some satisfying moments, and a handful of genuine scares, but they are few and far between, and by the time it rolls round to the ill-advised twist at the end, you’re likely to be rolling your eyes as opposed to sitting on the edge of your seat.
47 Meters Down is a “decent enough” shark movie, and whilst not a complete waste of time, it doesn’t compare to The Shallows; still the best recent shark movie at least.
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