Shark movies, eh? As fantastic as Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) is, it triggered a long and seemingly perpetual string of stupid films. Such as 47 Meters Down (2017), a ridiculous survival horror film that continues to pique our interest.
47 Meters Down
By this point, anyone with only a passing interest in film knows the premise. Shark films have the same schlocky thing going for them.
We can’t think of a single good shark film except for Jaws, unless you count the ridiculous stupidity of Deep Blue Sea (1999) as so bad it’s good.
But the jaw-dropping ridiculousness of 47 Meters Down still baffles us to this day.
Obviously director Johannes Roberts is aiming this 85 minute romp (and that’s still far too long) at a specific audience. Teenagers and that. Probably ones who haven’t even watched Jaws.
Thusly, we get two young women. There’s Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt). Two Americans holidaying in Mexico. Lisa’s boyfriend has recently dumped her as she’s a bit boring.
Kate suggests she become more impulsive and suggests they go stare at some great white sharks from a diving cage (a popular tourist attraction these days).
They go and meet Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine is in this film, yes that one from Full Metal Jacket).
His boat is a bit knackered. The cage is rusty and the supporting cable looks like it wouldn’t be able to hold up a shrimp. Can you tell what’s going to happen?
So they end up in the cage and are, like, initially, like, totes amazeballing it.
Then the cable snaps and they plunge 47 meters (or metres, if you please) down to the bottom of the ocean. With all the sharks swimming around. Oooh, scary stuff!
To be fair the premise is pretty decent. But what plays out after this really makes little sense.
For a start, most of the world has moved beyond the notion sharks are mindless killing machines. Great whites are very smart and sociable. Although they look goddamn terrifying, they’re quite shy creatures.
In this film, they’re psychotic maniacs hellbent on murdering the Lisa and Kate to death.
The instant they try to get out of the cage, the sharks swoop in like kamikaze bombers.
But they have radio contact to the bumbling Captain Taylor, who immediately provides them with advice on what to do.
He sends down his employee, Javier, to help out whilst the women run low on oxygen. But continue wasting it by discussing pointless stuff.
They see Javier’s flashlight and Lisa swims out to try and get his attention—he has spare oxygen tanks.
A shark swoops in and she, sort of, avoids it. Then she gets a bit disorientated, but is able to fend off another shark assault by hiding inside a well-placed rocky outcrop.
Javier then emerges out of nowhere roaring at her to, “Get back in the cage!” He’s then murdered to death by a great white.
It’s at this point we really started to enjoy the film as it makes no sense.
At one point Captain Taylor is winching them up, but then the spare cable snaps and back the girls go plunging to the ocean floor.
We found that bit darkly amusing. What sort of amateur operation is this?! These guys can’t even get a bloody winch working, how have they operated that business for so long like that? Does this terrifying scenario happen every other month for them?
These questions go unanswered, but we think it’d make for a great TV series. The incompetent antics of this cage diving company and it’s happy-go-lucky owner.
Modine’s voiceover work for this is played straight, so with each developing calamity he’s authoritative and serious in his intent to save the girls.
Frankly, at that point, you’d think the guys would floor it and pretend the whole ordeal never happened. Who gives a toss about compassion, eh?
Whatever. There’s just lots, and lots, of moments like this.
Anyway, sure enough the girls make it to the surface after more mishaps. But there’s a twist ending. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know what it is!
Okay, Lisa realises she was hallucinating due to nitrogen narcosis. The initial rise to the surface with Kate didn’t happen, the latter was murdered to death by a shark.
Eventually the coast guard arrive and get her out of there.
Obviously, Captain Taylor would be in some serious legal shit after his incompetent antics with the cage. But that’s ignored, even at the end of the film.
We’d really like a sequel, 47 Meters Up, to document his subsequent, and inevitable, court case. His explanations would make for comedy gold. Oh well, guess we can only dream.
Anyway, as you might be able to tell from our tone here this film is rubbish. It makes little sense, is thoroughly implausible, it began to amuse us rather than terrify, and yet we really bloody enjoyed it as a daft one-off viewing.
We sure as hell won’t be watching it again, but if you fancy a good and mindless laugh then switch your brain off and… “enjoy”.
Right, on a budget of $5.3 million this one went on to recoup $62.6 million. So it was quite the sleeper hit!
Filming took place in the Dominican Republic and at Pinewood Indomina Studios for the cage scene bits. That was all done in 2015, with extra photography work in 2016.
It was intended for straight to DVD release, but Entertainment Studios cancelled that and committed to a theatrical release.
A wise decision, after you see how much it went on to make.
It’s one of those “What would you do in that situation!?” type deals. And you’d swim slowly to the surface to avoid the bends.
And the sharks wouldn’t attack you. Because sharks don’t attack everything on sight.
47 Meters Down was actually nominated for a Saturn Award—Best Horror Film. It must have been a slow year, or something (bribes?).
If you’re new to the horror genre then, yes, maybe you’ll find it scary. We find it so riddled with clichés it couldn’t possibly scare anyone.
But, heck, for what it is at 85 minutes it was daft enough to keep us waiting for the next ridiculous development.
47 Meters Down: Uncaged
The fantastic news is (upon researching further) there’s a sequel. Hurray! Initially it was called 48 Meters Down (genius), but now goes by the name of the above.
We had no idea this thing was out there. Johannes Roberts directs, but there’s no Captain Taylor (Modine) this time. Rubbish. Boo!
It’s met with mixed reviews. We’ll catch up with it when possible and do another review. As there’s something weirdly compelling about crap shark movies.