The Movie Waffler Now on Netflix - 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED | The Movie Waffler

Now on Netflix - 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED

47 meters down uncaged review
Four teenage girls battle for their lives when they become trapped in a submerged Mayan city with a school of Great White sharks.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Johannes Roberts

Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Sistine Rose Stallone, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju, John Corbett, Nia Long, Brec Bassinger

47 metres down uncaged dvd

Resisting the urge to name itself '48 Metres Down', Johannes Roberts' sequel to his surprise 2017 hit 47 Metres Down (or '47 Meters Down' if you're in the U.S., which doesn't use the metric system, so why is there even an American spelling of 'Metre'?) is one of those sequels that shares the flimsiest of bonds with its predecessor. Yes, there are sharks here, but the characters of the first movie are nowhere to be seen, and their teenage replacements certainly don't submerge themselves anywhere close to a depth of 47 metres.

The first movie preyed as much on claustrophobia as selachophobia, trapping its protagonists in a shark cage several metres below the surface (47, if I recall correctly). This sequel is less constricted, confining its female fish fodder to an underwater Mayan city. With a quartet of young women battling to escape a maze-like network of nooks and crannies, the key influence would seem to be Neil Marshall's The Descent.

47 metres down uncaged review

Said quartet consists of Mia (Sophie Nélisse), a shy target of school bullies; her unsympathetic stepsister Sasha (Corinne Foxx); and Sasha's mischievous friends Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sistine Stallone). All four are students at an international school on the coast of Mexico, and rather than attend a school outing to see some Great White sharks, they bunk off to explore the submerged Mayan city Mia's father, archaeologist Grant (John Corbett), has been working on. Why anyone would bunk off a school trip to see Great White sharks is beyond me. Kids today, huh?

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Investigating the ruins, the girls are shocked when a Great White appears. In their panic, they knock over some columns, trapping themselves in the ruins. One advantage they have is that the shark in question is blind, so if they can keep quiet, they just might make it through.

47 metres down uncaged review

So on top of a nod to The Descent, what we have here is an underwater riff on Don't Breathe, as our heroines attempt to outwit a blind antagonist. A large part of what made Don't Breathe so successful was director Fede Alvarez's insistence on familiarising the viewer with the geographical layout of his film's confined setting. Roberts never establishes the space we're dealing with here, so it's difficult to generate suspense when we have no idea where the shark is in relation to its human prey. Add in murky underwater photography that will have you increasing your screen brightness, and any potential this scenario may have had is quickly lost.

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Things pick up in the second half when the girls find themselves in a less confined and more clearly visible setting, and Roberts doubles down on the shark attacks. You might be surprised at some of the characters that fall victim here. In the climax, Roberts pulls out one last, fiendishly ironic twist.

47 metres down uncaged review

Roberts is a frustrating filmmaker, one who clearly knows how to put together an effective genre b-movie. The Strangers: Prey at Night and 47 Metres Down display his talent for mining tension and finding a fresh approach to seemingly played out scenarios. But he needs to find himself a writing partner, as his movies are too often dogged by characters that really need to be fleshed out more for us to fully invest in their plight. Nélisse's Mia is a perfect example of this quandary, initially set up as the archetypal 'final girl', only to soon become indistinguishable from her more disposable companions. With all four girls donning oxygen masks for most of the movie, it becomes near impossible to tell them apart.

Yet while Roberts has his storytelling flaws, his movies usually boast standout moments. Here, it's not a gory set-piece or suspenseful sequence, but rather an early montage when the four girls set off together with mischief in their eyes. Needle dropping Aztec Camera's 'Somewhere In My Heart' as the girls frolic in their momentary freedom, Roberts gleefully evokes that special summer when the kids your parents warned you about took you under their wing. It's a gloriously sunny piece of cinematic poptimism that seems to set up a more interesting movie than the generic thriller that follows.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged is on Netflix UK now.

2020 movie reviews