Film Review: 47 METRES DOWN: UNCAGED (USA 2019) **

47 Meters Down: Uncaged Poster

Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves.


Johannes Roberts

Back in 2017, a low budget survival horror film that cost only $5 million to make earned a whopping $62 million worldwide at the box-office despite mixed reviews. The plot followed two sisters who are invited to cage dive while on holiday in Mexico.  When the winch system holding the cage broke and the cage plummets to the ocean floor with the two girls trapped inside, they must find a way to escape, with their air supplies running low and great white sharks stalking nearby.

A new survival horror sequel arrives this week with a similar title 47 METRES DOWN: UNCAGED.  The first part of the title 47 METRES DOWN will tend to be confusing but the uncaged signifies that the film is also about sharks, and this time about girls attacked by sharks unprotected by a cage.  The film was supposedly to be set in Brazil but moved to Yucaton, Mexico.  Principal photography for the film took place in the Dominican Republic, Pinewood Studios, Dominican Republic, The Underwater Studio in Basildon and Pinewood Studios, UK.

Four teenage girls scuba diving in a ruined underwater city quickly find themselves in a watery hell as their adventure turns to horror when they learn they are not alone in the submerged caves.  As they swim deeper into the claustrophobic labyrinth of caves, they enter the territory of the deadliest shark species in the ocean.  The species is supposed to have developed heightened senses for the silly reason that these sharks need to survive in deep underwater without sight, as there is no light in the far depths of the ocean.  Yet, the sharks keep missing their prey.

Mia (Sophe Nelisse) and Sasha (Corinne Foxx) are two half sisters who do not get along- till of course they bond after their encounter with the sharks – no surprise here.  They are led by Alexa (Brianne Tju), followed by troublemaker Nicole (Sistine Stallone), the latter take risks at the expense of others to satisfy her curiosity.  Needless to say, she is the first one to go.  The cast is eclectic enough with a white, a black and an asian forming three of the girls.  Surprising for a film set in Mexico, there is hardly a Mexican to be seen on the screen.

Nothing much happens for the first third of the film, where director Roberts takes his time to establish the relationship between the sisters, Mia and her schoolmates that eventually lead nowhere.  The action and mishaps are all too predictable.  When all the thrills appear exhausted, the sharks suddenly appear – not one but many. The underwater photography is impressive.

The music is a hash of old hits including the Carpenters’ song “We’ve Only Just Begun”, which is an odd choice for the movie.

The film is obviously a cash grab banging not the success of the original 2017 movie, providing much more of the same which in other words, ends up quite the bore, even at 90 minutes.


Film Review: 47 METRES DOWN (UK 2017) ***1/2

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47 meters downTwo sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive.

Director: Johannes Roberts
Writers: Johannes Roberts, Ernest Riera
Stars: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine

Review by Gilbert Seah

47 METRES DOWN, directed by Johannes Roberts and written by Roberts and Ernest Riera is a British horror thriller adventure about two sisters stuck in a shark cage 47 metres under the sea. There is nothing British about the film that can be noticed. The lead actor, Mandy Moore is American and her sister is played by Australian Claire Holt losing her Aussie accent. The only hint at British is the film’s title or it would be called 47 (or the equivalent in conversion) Feet Down.

The story follows sisters Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Holt) on vacation in Mexico. Lisa’s boyfriend has broken up with her because “she made the relationship boring”. While drinking and dancing at 1:00 a.m, they meet up with some local men who tell them about cage diving with sharks. Lisa is reluctant but Kate convinces her to come along. The men arrive and talk to Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine). The girls follow and both lie about being experienced divers even though only Kate knows how to dive. While under water, the winch breaks and the cage plummets below. Their oxygen slowly runs out while they fight against time and the sharks to be rescued with a spare winch.

Moore and Holt keep their characters in focus – balancing humour and terror. Matthew Modine, now in his fifties, still looks charming as Captain Taylor.
Roberts keeps his film exciting from start to finish with a solid pace that never lets up. The first time the full body of a shark is seen is when it suddenly appears a third through the film, swallowing the camera the girl dropped from the cage. The ending contains a twist that will surprise. The film is never short of scary set-ups. After the broken winch is fixed, the rope breaks. Roberts also knows how scary it can be in a dark scary sea where one cannot see the light from the surface or the ocean floor. Being lost underwater is much scarier than being lost in space. The film’s best and scariest scene is Kate swimming with a flashlight in the dark waters with nothing in sight but darkness.

The lean script omits details. Nothing is known of the sisters’ background, where they work or which American city they come from, except for mention of Lisa’s never seen boyfriend.

Why would two girls want to under extreme danger in a shark cage? The script spends time explaining the reason. One is that Lisa needs to prove to herself that she is not as boring as her boyfriend. The second is Kate insisting that they have a good time together and the third is the attraction of seeing sharks up close. The fascination is heightened in a scene where sharks go on a feeding frenzy devouring a bucket full of bloody fish parts.

The film is sufficiently cheesy to be fun. The skimpy costumes, the stereotyped locals and the clear ocean waters and white beaches are what can be expected
On the business side, the $5 million lean production has already grossed more than $13 million after the first week of release.


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