a critiQal film review 47 Meters Down (2016)

Plot: Two sisters vacationing in Mexico become trapped in a shark cage on the ocean floor. As their oxygen starts to run out and with great white sharks circling them, the sisters must find a way to get to the surface alive.

Reviewed
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  • ...playing off of viewers natural fears of feeling trapped, helpless, and a shark menace (a Hollywood go-to), this film turns out to be a decent (if mostly by-the-numbers) horror flick.

With another shark attack flick recently arrived on DVD, and our recent review of Jaws (1975), we decided to make this an entire shark week of reviews. Today, it’s a film from just 2 years ago – 47 Meters Down. Also known as Into the Deep, this one swam under our radar when it was released, so now seemed like a perfect time to catch up, and see if we had missed anything good.

Mandy Moore and Clair Holt lead the cast, and spend most of 47 Meters Down on-screen. They seem to work well together, bringing home a bit of a sisterly bond the movie badly needs. Mandy Moore, who hasn’t been seen since the hilarious Saved! (2004), is nearly unrecognizable here, and that’s kind of a good thing. While her squeaky clean image is still intact, it’s being used for more than comedy here, and that’s nice to see. Claire Holt, on the other hand, isn’t a name most will be familiar with, and she goes into the film fresh in the viewer’s eye, doing a good job with what she has.

The rest of the small cast of 47 Meters Down is pretty much background for those two, although seeing Matthew Modine as the ship captain is a bit of nostalgic fun. The rest are on-screen for so little time, it’s hard to even tell how good of a job they really did. Even Modine pops up for only a few moments, and his performance is mostly in the form of a voice coming from the radio.

As is usual with low-budget horror flicks, 47 Meters Down takes place in Mexico, where a couple of tourists go off the beaten path with people they barely know. Unsurprisingly, this gets them into trouble quickly, and the viewer is left shaking their head at the protagonists’ idiocy. Unfortunately, things don’t get much better as the film wears on, but then again, isn’t that kind of the point in horror flicks like these? The protagonists get themselves into bad situations with their obvious lack of common sense, and then the rest of the film is spent with them trying crazier and crazier things to extract themselves.

Thankfully, the toothy great white sharks that pop up in 47 Meters Down help bring an air of suspense and terror to what otherwise would have been a rather shlocky horrorfest of a film. With the protagonists trapped in a rusty shark cage at the bottom of the floor, the viewer automatically feels sorry for them as these predators of the deep circle around. Ever since Jaws (1975) exploded on the scene, Hollywood has come back again and again to show how terrifying these terrors of the deep can be. Whether it’s actually true or not doesn’t matter – Hollywood has drummed it into viewers’ heads so many times it’s chilling just to see one of these sharks swim by in a film.

With that now built-in suspense starting with the first appearance of a shark, it’s no wonder that Hollywood goes back to this same well over and over again. Sure, they’ve taken it to extremes (Deep Blue Sea (1999), Sharknado), with that built-in suspense, it’s kind of hard not to get the audience hooked into the film when sharks are involved.

And 47 Meters Down isn’t an exception. While it’s not as good as some of the other better shark movies out there, it plays well enough on its common themes of feeling trapped and helpless, and of course, the looming shark menace. It’s not quite as entertaining as say, The Shallows (2016), but it does manage to throw in a twist or two that will keep the viewers interested throughout.

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