47 Metres Down: Uncaged (15)
Director: Johannes Roberts
Review: RJ Bland
47 Metres Down was one of the surprise success stories of 2017. Set for a straight to DVD release, the film received a late reprieve and wound up getting a pretty decent box office release. Made on a budget of just over $5m, the film went on to make over ten times that worldwide and whilst it received generally mixed reviews, we're not ashamed to admit that we rather enjoyed it. The pared down plot and effective jump moments were underscored by a palpable tension. And heck, even Mandy Moore was half decent too. As with all movies that make a killing at the box office, a sequel was greenlit pretty sharpish. That sequel, titled 47 Metres Down: Uncaged (I still think they should have called it 48 Metres Down) was once again given to the capable hands of British Director Johannes Roberts and writing partner Ernest Riera, the duo responsible for the original. Could they repeat the toothy charm of their first effort? We put on our diving gear and dove head firs....actually, we just checked it out in the comfort of our own (dry) home...
Mia and Sasha are a couple of step-sisters who are far from best of friends. At their posh Yucatan based high school, Sasha is something of a cool chick whilst Mia is a bit of a nerd and...yep, you've guessed it, is constantly being harassed and bullied by her classmates. Back at home, Mia's father shows here a tooth he found during the ongoing excavation of an underwater Mayan city that he's working on. It looks suspiciously like a Great White Shark tooth obviously. Speaking of sharks, in an effort to bring the step-sisters closer together, he informs them that he has booked a trip for the two of them to go on a glass bottomed boat tour to see Great White Sharks being fed. Classic bonding experience eh? Now whilst you might think that this is where the action is at you'd be wrong because two of Sasha's mates have got other plans for the step-sisters. Namely, going to a remote cove in the middle of the jungle. Once there they swim and muck about until one of Sasha's friends informs the group that this cove has an underwater entrance to the very Mayan city that Mia's dad is excavating. Mia reluctantly agrees to join them and they soon throw on their diving gear and head into the underwater cave system. However they soon realise that they are not alone...
Whilst it's true that this sequel doesn't quite match it's predecessor, there is still some fun to be had here. You'd be right in being slightly concerned at the rather uninspired twenty minutes or so which are filled with stunted dialogue, cliché characters and odd music choices for the usual teenage-girls-having-fun montage that seems compulsory in all these types of films. To be fair the script doesn't really improve very much in terms of characterisation and the talky bits. I'm not going to pretend I am too clued up on the conversations that take place between teenage girls when they are together but I can't imagine they're quite as rote as this. However you don't tune in to a 47 Metres Down film to see fleshed out characters and first rate drama (although a hint of that would be nice). No, what you're here for is some good old bloody underwater fun and on that front, the movie does an relatively solid job.
The introduction of the Mayan ruins and the cave system it sits within is a rather neat addition to proceedings and sets it apart from the usual open ocean sharkfest. We also aren't just dealing with a standard Great White here (as if that prospect wasn't bad enough). Instead Roberts and Riera have taken some inspiration from other subterranean horrors such as Neil Marshall's The Descent and created an evolved subspecies which has evolved to operate in the pitch black waters. They've got no eyes but their sense of hearing is off the charts! However it still does feel like this and the Mayan thing aren't really made the most of and for the most part, most of the set pieces and scenes are not wildly different from anything you've seen before. The CG effects are fine but with all the murk and silt down there, it's actually quite difficult to tell what's going on at times and although this lack of visibility adds something to the whole 'where the fuck is the shark!' thing, it does invariably lead to some disorientation and confusion.
Once our set of teens have descended into the caves there are no great shocks in terms of where it all ends up. You'll probably be able to work out who is going to survive and who isn't within the first five minutes or so and those expectations will be met. But hey, for those just looking for an hour and a half of saltwater thrills and a bit of tension, you probably won't care too much.