It seems that the subgenre of the shark movie is a murky ocean at best, often dotted with dire efforts that surpass even the ‘so bad it’s good’ stakes for the most part (we’re looking at you, Sand Sharks!). Sure, there’s obviously Steven Spielberg’s iconic Jaws, but other than that there’s only a handful of others worth your time, most notably Jaws 2, Deep Blue Sea, The Reef, Bait, Open Water and relatively recent releases such as The Shallows and 47 Meters Down. So, is Cage Dive yet another subpar effort in this sea of mediocrity, or does it manage to stand out from the regular fodder?
Plot-wise, Cage Dive sees two brothers and one of their girlfriends embark on a trip to Australia. As you may have guessed already, yes, that does mean that the trio of adrenaline junkies decide to partake in a cage dive to observe some of the Pacific Ocean’s famed great white sharks in the hope of landing themselves a gig on some reality TV series back home. Unfortunately for the trio of Jeff (Joel Hogan), Josh (Josh Potthoff) and Megan (Megan Peta Hill), the tide is well and truly turned when the boat that their cage is attached to is overturned by a freak wave. With the three of them now joined in the water by the crew of said boat, the ocean’s apex predators see this as the ringing of the proverbial dinner bell. As the group strive to survive in their doom-laced environment, tensions mount as dark secrets prove just as dangerous as the sharks that lay in wait.
One thing we have to instantly say about Cage Dave is do not be put off by the truly garish cover art for this DVD release. For some reason, it was decided that it would be a genius idea to have the cover adorned with the sort of overblown megalodon-esque shark that would make potential buyers conjure up images of stinkers such as Super Shark or the ever-dwindling Shark Attack movies. Similarly, certain markets – mainly North America – saw the film branded as the third in the Open Water franchise; the first of which was well handled if not utterly grim, the second of which was a sad disappointment. If you can actually get past the god-awful cover art, though, the film itself is actually rather good. Sure, some may be put off by the found-footage shooting style utilized throughout the movie, but that never feels like simply a gimmick due to how the story is that the group’s camera was found after the main narrative of the picture had played out.
A tense, gripping and engaging shark effort that swims against the tide of the usual dross so sadly often associated with this most popular of subgenres, Cage Dive could well prove to be one of 2017’s best kept genre secrets. With Joel Hogan marking himself out as one to keep your eye on as the youngest of the two brothers, the performances here are mostly well delivered – even if one particular character will have you slapping your head in disbelief at times – and the eye of writer/director/producer Gerald Rascionato manages to capture the erratic, terrifying, nail-biting action as it develops; with him managing to both capture the hopeful youth of the film’s central trio while also then capturing the gloomy realisation of the unfurling situation as the tale unravels. As for the sharks themselves, the less-is-more approach is used well for the most part even if you know that an ominous dorsal fin is never far away. And when they are on screen, the sharks here look extremely good and you’d never particularly know that they were mainly a man-made CGI creation.
It may not have received much of a hyped release – and that cover art is truly terrible – but trust us when we say that Cage Dive is most certainly worth taking a chance on.
Special Features: Behind the scenes / Deleted scenes / Trailers
CAGE DIVE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: GERALD RASCIONATO / STARRING: JOEL HOGAN, JOSH POTTHOFF, MEGAN PETA HILL, PETE VALLEY / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 9TH