Review: ’47 Meters Down’ Starring Mandy Moore And Claire Holt

Making a shark movie nowadays is rather difficult.  For one, Spielberg set the bar way too high 42 years ago when Jaws first showed us how terrifying the apex predator could be.  We collectively did not want to swim after seeing that.  Also, thanks to our endless obsession with sharks, and the Discovery Channel turning Shark Week into a national phenomenon, we now know that sharks aren’t the terrifying serial killers they were portrayed in movies since Jaws.  As a result, our shark escapism has taken the science-fiction route with films like Deep Blue Sea and Sharknado (another annual summer event) where the sharks have become enhanced to be scarier than they normally could or are borderline ridiculous in their premise (looking at you Shark Night).

47 Meters Down is the best of both worlds as we have a ridiculous premise along with weak dialogue.  However, the film does give a genuinely scary environment with plenty of suspenseful moments as you can’t help but jump even if you are the most jaded horror fan.  The film even gives you a great lesson in scuba diving, equipment, breathing, the bends, and another surprise in it not worth spoiling: all scientifically accurate.

The film follows two sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) who are vacationing in Mexico together.  Lisa is in a rut as she was just broken up with by her boyfriend for being too boring and is pretty much crying herself to sleep and waking up to be depressed over this guy.  Determined to get her sister out of their funk (and the fact that they are in Mexico), Kate takes Lisa out partying the night away.  The two meet two local guys and everyone is hitting it off.  For a moment, it looks like the film would be called “How Lisa Got Her Groove Back,” but then the guys tell the sisters about a brilliant idea.  Instead of using the recommended tours of the hotel, they know a guy, who knows a guy that offers the chance to dive in a cage with great whites.  Lisa is a little skittish, but hey, they guys are hot, what could go wrong?

The next morning the girls end up going with their newfound friends to a raggedy boat captained by Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine).  The boat looks like he put it together with parts he found as a junkyard.  No person in their right mind would set foot in this boat, let alone even go the promised 5 meters deep in the ratcheted cage to look at one of the largest predators on earth.

Rest assured, all hell breaks loose, the extremely loose line of rope holding the cage up snaps, and the two sisters cage falls 47 meters deep (hence the title) where they spend a majority of the movie trying to reestablish communication with the boat above, conserve their air, oh and avoid a whole bunch of killer great whites that for some reason are hungry for “American tourist.”  The sisters make a series of bone-headed decisions you would expect from a horror film, and the sharks are relentless.  There will be more than a few jump scare moments that will get you, especially when the camera gives you a perspective from inside the scuba mask looking into the endless blackness of the ocean, you know a shark will pop out any moment, yet you still will jump when they do.

Some of the dialogue is less than desired, and Lisa’s endless griping about her ex-boyfriend was annoying when they were on land.  After being stalked by great whites, she should not be thinking about this loser.  The girls continue to have to leave the confines of their cage to explore one thing after another, and you can almost hear the sharks ringing their dinner bells when that happens.  The sharks themselves while clearly CGI, do have a strong practical feel to them.  For a PG 13 movie, it does have some very realistic practical gore as well.

47 Meters Down manages to give you a great crash course in scuba diving as the experienced sister Kate is well versed in managing through trouble underwater.  Everything from purging your mask to using the air pressure in the scuba vest for flotation purposes is carefully contrived for the audience to give them a sense of realism in this movie.  The ending of the film was pleasantly surprising (or pretty predictable depending on if you were able to see it coming) as it also relied on science.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5