Review: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)

I feel like little should need to be said about this movie after mentioning that the first real ‘scare’ of the films involve an atrocious CGI fish lashing out and literally screaming at a teenage girl. Unfortunately, it would be misleading to stop there, for such an absurd moment suggests this to be the type of film that is just so bad that it has to be enjoyable. Make no mistake – this absolute train wreck of a movie is so poorly shot that several sequences are nearly impossible to discern. This is a visual disaster backed by atrocious writing.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged follows teenage Sasha, the class loser that everyone hates. We know this because the film opens with her being thrown into a pool and it’s clear her stepsister is embarrassed by her presence. Why she’s so mistreated is never elaborated upon and this trait is all but forgotten as the actual narrative begins. More than likely, it’s a cheap attempt at forcing our sympathy for a character otherwise entirely devoid of a personality.

After fifteen minutes of setup loaded with absolutely bizarre shots of the bikini-clad protagonists, we finally get into the meat of the film as the girls dive into the underwater ruin. This is where the film pulls out its most mesmerizing trick by making its diverse cast entirely indistinguishable. It’s a rare moment when the camera is steady enough and the lighting actually present to get a handle on which character you’re actually looking at. Their faces obscured by clunky masks, the women are all but reduced to their bodies.

So many of the deaths in this movie are set up more like comedy bits, carrying nothing resembling tension. These moments seem to be aiming for the most rudimentary sort of jump scare, but the action passes so quickly that I hadn’t yet processed any attempt at horror by the time it was gone. When we actually do get the characters actively engaging with the sharks, the animals just seem to inexplicably wander away at the last second. That screaming fish was somehow the one thing to catch me off guard, and that’s only thanks to the idea being so ridiculous I would have never expected it to happen.

There are other moments that I’m sure were supposed to be scary as the film cuts between a shark in pursuit and a girl fleeing, but the water is so murky and the camera so unstable that most of these scenes are visually incomprehensible. The camera tends to linger way too close to the subject that it ends up obscuring the surrounding action.

Tons of distracting plot developments pop up throughout the film. The four girls are exploring this ruin because Sasha’s father is researching it, and they naturally run into him and his two assistants because the film needs a higher body count. They have been working down here for a bit now yet the water appears to be absolutely infested with sharks – naturally, they seem totally unaware of this presence until the girls arrive and then everything falls apart immediately.

The relationships between any of the characters are as murky as the cinematography. Sasha just immediately seems to become one with the group despite the film’s insistence that she’s some sort of outcast even with her stepsister. There’s a fantastic glance between her and the bully near the end that is absolutely devoid of any meaning – this bully wasn’t one of the girls to journey into the ruin, she has absolutely no reason to have changed her opinion on Sasha. What is the point of this shot?

47 Meters Down: Uncaged is the type of low effort work that feels like it would fit perfectly on a specialty cable channel – how it was released theatrically or cost $12 million to make is beyond me. Outside the bare-bone narrative that could be acceptable under the right circumstances, it’s simply an unpleasant film to observe. The PG-13 rating is written into the film’s DNA, each of these horrid stylistic choices clearly existing solely to mask the violence and clouding the entire film as a result. With images as indistinguishable as the characters, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged takes a whole lot of time to do absolutely nothing interesting.

1 Star Out of 5

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