’47 Meters Down’ is probably a technically flawed B-movie from beginning to finish. But even in the absence of starry performances and a truckload of spoon-feeding (the actors vocalize what they see to themselves, which gets increasingly irksome as the movie progresses), there’s the campy core about two sisters (played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt) trying to survive dangerous waters with flesh-craving sharks for company and a limited supply of air.
The story begins at the 25th minute of the film when their little ‘shark-cage’ adventure goes awry and they seemingly get stuck at the bottom of the ocean floor. One thing that makes the movie engaging by default, is the way it sets its principal plot under deep waters. So, the ‘unfamiliar territory’ aspect is a check. Co-written and directed by Johannes Roberts, this survival thriller at times spoils it for the audience by reinstating certain things (like the ‘bends’ for example) which takes away a bit of the unpredictability factor. The big question in these kind of movies is: (How) do they survive? On that note alone, ’47 Meters Down’ packs a wallop.
There’s a certain sense of dread every time one of the sisters attempt to leave the cage and wander through eerie sea-beds or edges of cliffs, with shark-danger persistently lurking on standby. Some of the writing bits don’t work cohesively and at times, stick out like sore thumbs. We do feel terrible when at one point, the sisters think that their friends/instructors have ditched them, only for this thought to be overthrown almost immediately as a result of a writing ploy (because well, the story needs to move ahead), and cinematic compromises like these may not go down well with the discerning viewer.
Even then, some of the twists are skilfully presented. We do get reminded of ‘The Descent’ or ‘Gravity’ where one particular twist was executed in a much better manner. Still, I’d give Johannes a consolation award for taking the viewer for a mind-numbing toss. The gore element is comparatively on the lower side, and only as necessitated by the screenplay which is fair on part of the makers. The writers simply needed to cut down on the “Oh my God!”s and “What are we gonna do?”s because listening to these exclamations over and over is as excruciating as standing next to a gonging church bell.
‘The Shallows’ is a slightly better movie overall because of its characterization, crafting and superior production design. The CGI in ’47 Meters Down’ thankfully isn’t appalling, and positively contributes to the viewing experience. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt are just about fine in their portrayals of the two sisters but their on-screen bond could have benefited a lot more had the dialogues been less trashy and improvised. Now, I’m sure expert divers will surely rip this movie apart for its unrealistic plot-devices but consider it strictly a B-movie and this one may at the very least, be an engrossing water-based thriller.
Verdict: Shark-film aficionados can give this a try!
Watch the trailer here: