Johannes Roberts has the impossible task of having his 47 Meters Down (screened to me under the title In the Deep) compared to The Shallows, this summer’s other shark survival film that quietly took a chunk out of the box office.
While The Shallows was released in theaters, 47 Meters Down, starring Mandy Moore (“This Is Us,” A Walk To Remember), with Claire Holt (“The Vampire Diaries,” “The Originals”), Yani Gellman (“Pretty Little Liars,” “The Young And The Restless”), and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, The Dark Knight Rises), was going direct to DVD*, Digital HD and On Demand August 2, which would have been a shame, really. Thankfully, Freestyle Media acquired the film for a theatrical run in 2017!
In the film, Moore was recently left by her significant other, allegedly because she’s boring. This sets the stage for an impromptu trip to Mexico to prove she can be a party girl. She’s joined by her sister (Holt), who pushes her to be something she’s not, which leads them into the ocean to observe sharks. When the cable attached to the observation cage breaks, the girls are dropped into the deep with no way of communicating and their oxygen quickly running out.
Fans of shark survival horror movies are going to love 47 Meters Down, which is vastly different than The Shallows. In fact, they compliment, if not juxtapose each other into the perfect double feature. With Shallows, Blake Lively is trapped on a rock outside of the water with a great white shark circling to attack. 47 Meters Down takes viewers to the bottom of the ocean floor with many other dangers, while sharks also happen to be swimming around. They’re two completely different beasts that both have their fair share of suspense.
Although 47 Meters Down gives the viewers relief in knowing that the girls are “safe” in a cage, the duo is forced to leave on multiple occasions in order to attempt escape or rescue; this is when the tension hits a peak, and Roberts is able to really toy around with the emotions of the audience. Albeit CGI heavy, the sharks look pretty awesome and are constantly attacking. In fact, the finale had me jumping out of my seat, which I haven’t done at home in what seems like forever.
The only real problem I had with 47 Meters Down was (SPOILER) Roberts’ bizarre decision to include a completely unnecessary twist that can only be compared to a dream sequence. Not only did it disrupt the impact of the final moments, but it leads to a jarringly useless ending that completely changed the tone and emotional context of the film.
Giving Roberts a pass on the finale as a probable creative decision (or Dimension forcing him to change it), 47 Meters Down is one of the most surprising releases in quite some time. 47 Meters Down is full of bite, and is vicious enough for the hardcore horror audience, while also providing an immense amount of thrills for everyone else. Don’t let this one swim past you.
*47 Meters Down is beautifully shot and doesn’t deserve to be viewed on DVD.