M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2016 and going through September 30, 2017. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on June 16, 2017! Available On Demand, digital download, & DVD here!
47 METERS DOWN (2016)
aka IN THE DEEP
Directed by Johannes Roberts
Written by Johannes Roberts, Ernest Riera
Starring Matthew Modine, Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Santiago Segura, Yani Gellman, Chris J. Johnson
Being terrified of sharks, the advancement of CG animation has only made shark films more frightening for me. Still, there has to be a good movie around it. Last year, THE SHALLOWS did a fantastic job of curling my toes and forcing me to watch through my shaking fingers. Just around the time I got over the thrills of THE SHALLOWS, I found out there would be another shark horror film released later in the summer called IN THE DEEP, pitting pop icon Mandy Moore against the world’s deadliest predator of the deep. Well, someone realized that they might have a hit on their hands and while I received a screener for this and reviewed the DVD last year, it looks like the film’s been retooled, renamed, and given a theatrical release under the new title 47 METERS DOWN, which was the original title. But that’s ok, THE SHALLOWS was called IN THE DEEP at one point as well. Spacing it out a year later and plopping 47 METERS DOWN in roughly the same time of year seems to be the strategy to make this one a hit of equal stature. Is it? Read on.
47 METERS DOWN is a one locale film where most of the action takes place in an isolated location for pretty much the entire film. Like OPEN WATER and Adam Green’s FROZEN, 47 METERS DOWN isolates the main characters in order to show what a big dangerous world we live in to those who are so caught up in themselves to notice it. Moore plays Lisa, a recently heartbroken gal who follows her best pal Kate (Claire Holt) to Mexico on a vacation and into a shark cage boating trip where they can experience first hand these deadly predators in their natural environment. Petrified of this idea, Lisa wants no part of it, but is convinced to face her fears as the wench to the cage they are in breaks and sends them plummeting to the bottom of the ocean with sharks circling them.
This is a petrifying situation that most audience members would never, ever do. I know I wouldn’t. Simply by immersing these two into this horrific situation and the events leading to their descent into the darkness of the ocean was enough to make me check to see if I needed a new pair of underoos a few times in this film. The premise itself is terrifying and this film does a decent job of not only showing the danger of the situation but also of the speed and deadliness of the sharks circling the cage.
The problem is that in order to spice up the action component of the film, these girls are forced to leave the cage over and over and over again to a point that stretches beyond most folks suspension of disbelief. OK, maybe the gals have to leave the cage once or twice in order to find the new pulley to lift them up or to get the new breathing equipment send down to help them survive. But the girls spend more time outside of the cage than they do in. And that’s the main problem of this film—they feel like they have to have action in order to keep the film interesting, but in doing so, things like character moments are glossed over. Sure one can establish character through action, but when the action is fucking stupid, like say, leaving a secure cage and swimming around in shark infested waters, then you don’t feel for the characters; you just think they’re stupid as fuck for doing what they are doing. I lost count of the amount of times Lisa and Kate left the cage in order to do something, when the natural survival instinct of anyone with a brain would be to sit tight in the safe space.
That said, the shark attacks are absolutely terrifying. As things get dire, air gets depleted, and yes, the gals continue to leave and return to the cage so many times you think it has a revolving door, the sharks (surprise, surprise) get wary of their caged prey and start attacking. Filmed in utter darkness with a simple flashlight, these attacks are the stuff of my absolute worst nightmare. Later in the film, as the possibility of rescue occurs, even more shark attacks made me cower in fear as the sharks launch themselves at our fearless girls as they try to get to the surface and to safety. The final moments of this film are filled with sheer terror and gave me some of the biggest jumps I’ve experienced since…THE SHALLOWS.
And then there’s a false ending that sort of trumps all of those scares…
Sigh…it’s a shame they didn’t stick with the action filled ending. The one they went with is interesting and TWILIGHT ZONE-y (though not supernatural), but definitely deflated the balloon for me. Instead of the edgy ending jagged with gnarly fear, 47 METERS DOWN ends with a more uplifting end that feels tacked on rather than thought all the way through. It all makes sense and does have a charm to it, but still, the final moments ended up frustrating me more than anything else and leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth rather than the feeling of satisfaction that a film successfully scared the crap out of me.
Moore and Holt are fine here in the leads, despite the script pointing them in bone-headed directions. Modine only has a slight cameo, but it’s good to see him working again. 47 METERS DOWN will make you jump if you have a deathly fear of sharks as I do, but the story itself is riddled with head-slapping decisions and an ending that felt toothless.
THE 2016-2017 COUNTDOWN!
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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