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  • Rev Horror

47 Meters Down

Dir. Johannes Roberts (2017)

Two sisters are stuck in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean with less than an hour of oxygen left.

Despite all of the horror films that deal with the activity, I feel like I would absolutely go cage diving if given the option. There's something that feels so magical about being under the water and still somehow protected, being completely within a shark's element without having to worry about the death and dismemberment that usually comes along with it. Despite the fear, the danger, and the risk, there is something so chillingly beautiful about this part of the Earth that for most people remains completely unexplored. Nature in general is amazing, but being able to be so close to something so dangerous, mere inches of metal between you and the jaws of something that wants to eat you, is so incredible that it feels like an experience that would make you appreciate life in a way that almost nothing else can. But, of course, there are down sides...

Friends Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are vacationing in Mexico, as friends are wont to do. Lisa has recently broken up with her boyfriend Stuart (who was played by James Van Der Beek, but whose scenes were left on the cutting room floor), and the two decide to go cage diving to push themselves to their limit. When the winch breaks free from the boat that is holding them up, their cage sinks to the floor of the ocean, leaving them stranded and caught between the surface and some terrifying sharks. As the pair tries to reconnect with the boat, they eventually realize that their survival is dependent upon reaching the surface as their supplies of oxygen dwindle and their chances of living through the day sink even lower.

47 Meters Down is tame horror, to be sure, a near certainty going into a PG-13 horror film (and even more certain when that film stars Mandy fucking Moore). It is also tense as hell, excellently done survival horror despite its mass-market appeal. It's a terrifying situation, and despite not being particularly realistic, it's a thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat through a good bit of the runtime. This one is far more thriller than horror, but there's also plenty of reason to be scared: the film does a tremendous job on their sharks, making them super realistic and genuinely terrifying.

The sharks aren't the only thing that's scary here. When Lisa tries to find the source of a flashlight that presumably belongs to one of the crewmembers sent to rescue them, she floats in the ocean while being unable to see either the surface or the ocean floor. The thought that something could be lurking anywhere above or beneath her, and knowing that the ocean depths already contain multiple enormous creatures who want nothing more than to eat her, is tremendously frightening. Despite the film's clear attempt to appeal to a teen market, it's truly scary at times, and that in itself is a huge accomplishment for a film like this.

Unfortunately, the subdued nature of the film that is a consequence of its rating and refusal to up the ante does make it suffer a good bit in its appeal to a larger horror audience. It's scary because of the nature of the plot, not because of any particular efforts made by the film. The fear generated by the film is also affected by the limited scope of its plot. Two women stuck in a cage might make for a fun Saturday night, but it does not in and of itself a horror film make. Nevertheless, it generally does the most with what it has, and it's still an entertaining movie despite its watered down horror potential. The last few minutes are tense as all hell, an incredibly well-done sequence that may be squandered by the mindfuck of an ending depending on your tastes. It's not a bad effort, especially in a genre filled with bad efforts.

Who this movie is for: Sharksploitation fans, Teen horror lovers, Mandy Moore superfans

Bottom line: 47 Meters Down is decently scary but suffers at times from its limited plot and refusal to step beyond the realm of teen horror. Moore and Holt are good in their roles, and the sharks are particularly well done, a surprising rarity in sharksploitation movies. It's teen horror, but it's at least good teen horror. This one is streaming now on Hulu with a Starz subscription, and it's a great time of year to check it out if you haven't seen it before. It's tense enough to be worth a watch.

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