Mandy Moore and Claire Holt go to Mexico where they party hard, then decide to go on a sketchy cut-rate shark-seeing excursion hosted by the sketchier Matthew Modine. When you are going to be lowered in a cage in shark-infested waters, you may want to shell out for the deluxe package, huh girls? This is shot like an MTV video, but with hungry sharks, let’s check it out, shall we?
47 Meters Down (2017)
“I’ve just heard horror stories about people going on these shady trips,” says Mandy Moore. Yeah, they’re called teen exploitation films. And you’re in one, Missy.
I love shark movies, but I have one big question: How come all they all have shark penile envy? Like when director Renny Harlin makes Deep Blue Sea, he wanted to be sure everybody knew his sharks were bigger than Spielberg’s in Jaws. First of all, size doesn’t matter with sharks, it’s the motion of the ocean. Second, the Whale Shark is the largest shark in the world. It can grow up to 40 feet long, about the size of a school bus. But nobody gives a crap about whale sharks, because they’re harmless. So once again, Hollywood filmmakers, nobody gives a rip how big your sharks are.
So when the girls meet two hunky local boys who casually mention that you can go in a cage and see 25 foot sharks, I made a quick internet search and I see that a 20 foot great white is the largest ever filmed, and this was Shark Week documentary style hype, so you know they’re exaggerating by at least 5 feet. That means that, if these people were smart enough to take an underwater camera down there, they’d get really valuable film footage of these unbelievably large sharks. I don’t care if a shark is 5 feet or 55 feet long, I don’t want to get anywhere near it if it’s hungry and thinks I’m a luscious blubbery seal. Because non-movie sharks eat seals, not people.
Oh, right, there’s a silly movie happening. In quick order, we learn Mandy Moore is upset that her boyfriend broke up with her, so she’s going to risk her life going into a flimsy shark cage, lowered down on a rust bucket of a boat piloted by the always shady Matthew Modine. Didn’t anybody see Cutthroat Island? The guy should never be let near a boat in a movie.
Mandy Moore (famous for being herself) and Claire Holt (not really that famous but appearing on some CW TV shows) are not going to give you a Meryl Streep level of line readings, but they’re believable as young girls on vacation in Mexico. The movie is filmed well, with some dramatic shark menacings. So the basic production levels are decent. It’s just that the movie is perversely sadistic.
I got my first inkling that this is a seriously dumb movie when the first casualty is Mandy Moore’s camera. After she drops it through the cage, a shark materializes out of nowhere to eat it up. That explains why nobody’s ever filmed a 25 foot shark, because they always eat your camera first. Maybe they just hate selfie sticks as much as we do.
Then Claire Holt says, “I dare you to touch him.” Yup, the movie just got stupider. Good job filmmakers, for a second I thought I was watching a serious movie.
Before you can say “bargain basement shark excursion,” the winch breaks and the two girls plummet in their cage to the titular distance under water. At this point, the movie turns into an aggravating tease of a shark movie. They are trapped in the cage, so Claire Holt decides she can fit through a rend in the bars and swim up until their radios work. Holt, despite easily getting her entire body through the hole with plenty of room, for some reason can’t get her head and mask through the hole, and so she flops around for a while, teasing the audience that a shark is going to chomp her legs. But no, we’ve got to get one level dumber, so she takes off her mask, to then climb through the cage, to put her mask on. Will the sharks attack her now?!?!
The filmmakers keep concocting reasons Claire has to leave her cage and swim around only to be harassed by sharks. At no point is their plan to, you know, swim to the surface to avoid dying of suffocation. Man, this is a perversely mean movie.
So the girls tease us by continually getting out of the cage, then swimming around until sharks pop out of the darkness, then they hurry back into the cage, only to repeat the cycle again. This goes on for an hour. Then when you think it can’t get any stupider, it opens up newer depths of dumbness.
After the stupid moment I choose not to mention here, I have to say the third act is really terrific, when the girls take action and actually DO SOMETHING about their horrible situation. Then the twist ending ruins it. The movie had a perfectly good ending and then the dumb filmmakers make the dumb decision to add unnecessary, dumb twists.
Given the scenario, the movie is reasonably tense. With the tight close-ups with negative space behind them, you expect a shark to come rushing in at any moment. But the movie is about two earnest girls, who through no fault of their own are forced to suffer, slowly lose their oxygen, freak out, and get terrorized by sharks. And although their stressed out reactions are reasonable given the circumstances, their constant squealing and panicking and repeating “Oh my god!” and “I’m really scared right now” is aggravating to watch. This movie is much better made than the majority of creature features I’ve seen on Netflix, but about the same level of stupidity and sadism.