In what’s become the annual shark attack movie following from last year’s The Shallows, Johannes Roberts’ ultra low budget 47 Metres Down is fun little thrill ride and, given its modest origins, does justice to the American Girls in Peril trope.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from the current spate of shark attack films it’s this: young American girls shouldn’t go swimming in the waters of Mexico. That’s the message from The Shallows, Open Water and 47 Metres Down. What Roberts’ film does right, as with great genre pictures, is it spends times in setting up its central protagonists before sending them headlong into the annals of a submerged hell. The film takes its time to get to know our heroines, and it’s the single best stroke it plays.
When sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) decide to take a deep sea dive in a shark cage whilst on holiday in Mexico it’s all thrilling and nifty in the beginning. When the cage breaks free and sinks to the ocean floor, the pair are trapped with limited oxygen and some very big snappers floating around waiting to feast on them.
From the outset you know where this is going, but that doesn’t stop Roberts from really wrenching out the tension when you are in the depths of the deep blue sea. The anxiety and fear of the pair as time whittles away and the threat of a brutal death swipes at them is effortlessly drawn and both Moore and Holt give it their all.
The underwater photography is well crafted as cinematographer Mark Silk keeps the frame wound in tight to emphasise the size perspectives. The final 50 minutes of the film (it’s 89 minutes long) is really top notch stuff for a microbudget $5.5m production.
If there is a shortcoming in proceedings it’s only that the narrative does pull its punches in a few moments. 47 Metres Down could’ve pushed a little harder in showing its teeth. But that’s only a small quibble for is, across the board, a fairly engaging, amiable and modest shark attack thriller.
47 METRES DOWN is in Cinemas Nationally