PrintE-mail Written by Paul Mount

Rescued from straight-to-DVD Hell thanks to the surprise success of last summer’s The Shallows, 47 Metres Down, directed and co-written by Johannes (Storage 24, The Other Side of the Door) Roberts, continues to wrest the shark movie away from the clammy grasp of the SyFy Channel and their never-ending Sharknado series and increasingly-silly monster mash-up cash-ins. 47 Metres Down is a brisk, tense, surprisingly-effective little chiller which ticks all the boxes we might expect from a movie in which pretty ladies are terrorised by voracious sharks and yet adds a little something extra by way of a real sense of panicky jeopardy as our terrified leads face a fate perhaps even worse than becoming shark fodder as they find themselves stranded at the bottom of the ocean with their air supply running out. Sometimes a bad day can get a whole lot worse…


Sisters Lisa (former pop moppet Moore) and Kate (Holt) are holidaying in Mexico and an evening spent being lightly romanced by a couple of buff local hunks leads to an invitation to spend the following day cage-diving so they can get up close and personal with some distinctly unfriendly neighbourhood sharks. On reflection, perhaps a day playing bingo at the hotel might have been a better option. No sooner have the feisty pair donned their wetsuits and clambered into the cage in pursuit of an activity only slightly more pointless than slamming the fridge door repeatedly into one’s genitals than the inevitable happens; the winch cable holding the cage snaps and the two by-now terrified girls find themselves plunging into the inky depths to come to rest…yep, you guessed it, 47 metres down. They’re out of radio communication range, their air supply is perilously low and swimming to the surface isn’t a good idea due to the risk of decompression sickness (the bends). Oh, and there’s also the little matter of the circling sharks, metaphorically licking their metaphorical lips at the prospect of a tasty, easy meal…


Like The Shallows, 47 Metres Down plays with our preconceptions of the shark movie and manages to cook up something new from ingredients we’ve been served fairly regularly since Jaws back in 1975 to the extent that perhaps it isn’t really just a shark movie at all. So whilst we get the obligatory shots of (extremely well-realised CGI) sharks swooping and snapping we’re also diverted by the more pressing peril of the dire situation the two girls find themselves in, stuck at the bottom of the ocean with only a limited supply of air. In a sense, the sharks are the least of the girls’ worries. It’s ferociously watchable stuff as the resourceful pair battle terrifying odds to stay alive; rescue and salvation are snatched away time and again and there’s a real sense of hopeless, stifling desperation in their plight as one rescue attempt in particular goes catastrophically wrong. Films set predominantly underwater can sometimes drift into murky incomprehensibility but Roberts keeps his action snappy and sharp and we are right there with those girls, trapped in their cage, terrified witless and yet really rather glad we’re actually sitting in the cinema munching on our popcorn and thanking the Gods that we’re not stupid enough to do something as foolhardy.

47 Metres Down is great fun – despite a slightly dodgy twist ending clunkily telegraphed halfway through the film – and Moore and Holt carry the drama well and, despite the inevitable  sketchiness of their characters, do enough to make us genuinely give a damn about their piscine plight. A surprise hit in the States, 47 Metres Down should perform well in the UK in another blockbuster-saturated cinema summer and again suggests that Johannes Roberts is a talent who ought to be given a shot at something bigger and ballsier.



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