The summer blockbusters are steam rolling their way through cinemas. Sometimes it’s nice to break away from the blockbusters that clutter the schedule during the summer. Out of nowhere, an independent horror/drama has arrived and it really impressed me. 47 Metres Down, directed and written by British director Johannes Roberts, the film follows two sisters on holiday in Mexico. After meeting two of the locals, they decide after a heavy night of drinking to meet them again in the morning. The other part I missed out is that they agreed to go diving into shark infested waters, whilst in a cage. Of course, this sounds like a terrible idea. Why do that when you could just drink cocktails by the pool all day? Anyways, moving on…as the two sisters enter the cage, the wench on the cage snaps and they end up stranded at the bottom of the ocean, 47 metres down. Their radio is out of range, their oxygen tanks are running low and they are surrounded by hungry sharks.
The premise of the movie does sound really intriguing. The use of sharks in movies isn’t used a lot and there’s a really good reason for that. It’s very hard to make them look realistic enough to have an effect on the audience. The best example is Jaws of course and in most recent times, Open Water used them to full effect. Being that this is relatively low-budget, the sharks are shown a lot on-screen. But to be honest, the main threat for the two sisters is the short time frame they have to make contact and not use their air supply. This is what I applaud the film for doing, using the talent of both leading women and making a drama that really works. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt, again, relatively unknown on the big screen both give really solid performances as the two sisters. Especially as they are wearing a scuba suit with full face masks on, too. Their emotion really resonates on another level through their voices and the expressions used through their eyes.
Johannes Roberts has by far made his best film to date. Having made Storage 24 that failed miserably at the UK box office a few years back and struggled with The Other Side of the Door last year, it seems he has found his level of expertise and I would love to see more dramas like this in the future from the English film maker. It’s never easy directing, let alone under water. He uses the camera effectively and concentrates on our two protagonists as they struggle to decide what to do. You would think that the main threat of the film would be the sharks, but what I think the director is trying to do is show that the ocean is the films true villain. The dark, endless depths of the ocean are the main characters enemy. Being 47 metres down in the ocean, the pressure is too much for them to simply swim back up to the top.
My main gripe with the film is it makes you feel like you’re an idiot at times. One of the men aboard the boat just barks down advice and guidance to the girls throughout the film. Telling them not to swim to the surface as they would die if they did due to the pressure. It’s okay to mention those kind of facts once in the film, but the persistence of it being said more than once becomes completely unnecessary. Being spoon fed information like that irritates me, it makes me feel that the director has no faith in your abilities to work out what would happen.
That being said, that’s a personal gripe I have with the film, but you may not feel the same way as I do. Overall, the film is an effective one and uses its strengths to deliver a well-made independent drama, that’s under water. Never an easy task, but it has to be applauded. 3.5 out of 5 stars.