Johannes Roberts’ thriller 47 Meters Down uses a simple premise mixed with a frightening yet realistic scenario to create one of the biggest surprises of the summer movie season.
The film centers around two sisters, Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt). They are on a vacation getaway in Mexico for two very different reasons. Kate is the last minute replacement for Lisa’s boyfriend, and Lisa is trying to forget that her boyfriend just dumped her. Kate doesn’t realize this at first, but Lisa confesses to Kate about 10 minutes into the story that her ex-boyfriend accused her of being too boring. Kate immediately sets out to help Lisa make her ex very jealous. They go out for a night of drinking and inevitably meet up with two hunky Latino men. The party goes on all night long. Over the course of the drinking and dancing, they find out that these men want to take them shark-cage diving (what could go wrong?). Immediately Lisa is against the idea, but Kate wins her over with the promise of great photos that they could post on Facebook (sigh).
If Lisa wasn’t scared before, she should have been shaking when she saw the condition of Captain Taylor’s (Matthew Modine) boat. The ship appears to be held together with duct tape and a ton of prayers. Nevertheless, they still end up going through with the dive which at first seems to be going quite well. It quickly turns into a nightmare as the cable attached to the cage snaps in two and the screaming girls descend 47 meters down to the floor of the ocean. Now the girls are faced with the prospects of having been served up to the Great White Sharks below on top of their oxygen running out. Their only hope is that the Coast Guard shows up to rescue them before it is too late.
Screenwriters Ernest Riera and Johannes Roberts didn’t seek to complicate the film’s storyline. They did, however, focus their attention on creating situations where the intensity of the scares was heightened. Instead of simply just having the shark cage snap and the girls plummet below, they made sure the captain had put an obscene amount of chum in the water to attract any number of sharks. Rather than having the girls have plenty of air to last them as they await their rescue, Lisa and Kate were on the brink of their tanks being empty just after the cable snapped. Riera and Roberts are consistently playing on the audience’s deepest fears.
Even though Roberts uses CGI Sharks for the film, the lack of space in the cage creates a sense of claustrophobia for the audience. He shows us sometimes less is more.
Mandy Moore and Claire Holt certainly played their roles well. They aren’t going to win any Oscars for this film, but each had me convinced just how frightened they were.
What Didn’t Work
Matthew Modine is cast as a ship captain and attempts to look the part by growing just the weakest looking beard ever. Not every person who works on a boat has facial hair.
47 Meters Down isn’t going to compete with the likes of Cars 3 this weekend at the box-office. However, if you were to compare the overall quality of both releases, I’d have to say that 47 Meters Down is a better film. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt’s latest release offers something original to an audience which is not the case with a movie like Cars 3. Not only will 47 Meters Down scare the hell out audiences, but they will also have a good time as well.