In the ocean, no one can hear you scream
With a genre stuffed with endless shark films, 47 Meters Down is the next to sink its teeth into movie audiences. While it does have a few tense moments and some slick camera shots, on the whole 47 Metres Down is largely forgettable. It lacks any sort of characterisation and driven forward by a few jump scares in the vast, open ocean, there just isn’t much in this shark film that hasn’t been done elsewhere better.
The story follows two sisters, Kate (Claire Holt) and Lisa (Mandy Moore) on a vacation to Mexico. After a brief opening, the two sisters decide to go shark diving. In true thriller fashion, things quickly go wrong and, trapped in a shark cage circled by hungry sharks, they end up at the bottom of the ocean with less than an hour of oxygen remaining. There’s something eerily unsettling about the vast depths of the ocean and its here that 47 Meters Down manages to exploit this to perfection.
There are numerous scenes shot with the women in their diving gear and large portions of the camera generously dedicated to open ocean. On a subconscious level this of course means we’re waiting for something (see: shark) to occupy that space but Director Johannes Roberts smartly decides not to do this. There”s also a surprisingly good score, with the deep, bassy guitar strums taking inspiration from Jaws and does a great job building tension. Its a pity then that 47 Meters Down devolves far too often into cheap jump scares and showing too much of the shark through the film. With a bit more atmosphere, some care over how often (or not) we see the shark and some likeable characters, there’s potential for a decent thriller here.
On the subject of characters, its worth mentioning just how unlikable the two lead women are. They barely feel like sisters; with little chemistry throughout and hidden behind a scuba mask, its hard to build empathy with either of them. I can’t help but feel the rushed time spent with the characters on the surface could have been better scripted to at least try and get to know them a bit. When the characters do end up in trouble, why should we care?
There’s another problem with 47 Meters Down and its the really poor logic the characters seem to inhabit. Whilst some of that can be forgiven with the predicament the characters find themselves in, some of it just feels like poor scripting. There’s a moment where the characters are told they have 10 minutes of oxygen left but a replacement oxygen tank should arrive within the hour. The normal reaction to this should of cause be hysteria, after all, an hour is longer than 10 minutes and that could spell big trouble for the characters but instead the sisters just shrug this off. There are other examples of this throughout the film but it happens all too frequently to be forgiven and are by far the worst parts of this thriller.
Its a shame too because 47 Meters Down definitely has some things going for it. The climactic ending is surprisingly tense and throughout the film the score really elevates this shark thriller more than it has any right to. The camera angles are good, with unsettling, unpredictable camera pans to show the vast ocean and how insignificant these characters are within it. Ultimately though, its the characters and laughable logic they convey that let this title down. The script feels lazy at times and any built up tension while underwater is ruined by an over-reliance on jump scares and showing way too much of the shark. Its not the worst film you’re likely to see but 47 Meters Down might just feature the most illogical characters of the year and for that alone, the film sinks before it even has a chance to get going.