‘Underwater’ // Film Review: Deep-Sea Thriller Doesn’t Cater Much Excitement

Underwater is one of those movies I heard about since it started filming in 2017, and it wasn’t until last year that Fox would finally release now after a few years of slumber. This was something that I didn’t have a ton of expectations about since it’s a January movie, and when seeing the trailer multiple times in theaters, it somehow touches on familiarity with other movies with a limited crew possibly trying to survive. Even as it leaves on being a forgettable deep-sea thriller, it at least tried to be fun.

What’s the Story: Beneath the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a crew of aquatic researchers must get to safety after an earthquake devastates collapses their subterranean laboratory. Their only chance of getting to another rig is to travel across the ocean, but the crew has more than the ocean seabed to fear when there seem to be monsters at every turn.

Kristen Stewart is the one that’s front and center with the story, and I thought she was very good in her role as the mechanical engineer Norah. It’s pretty confident to say she has been improving herself lately for being in these smaller movies or blockbusters to her own strength. Though she works well with the cast around her like Vincent Cassel, Jessica Henwick, Mamoudou Athie, and one of my favorite underrated talents John Gallagher Jr. caught in this situation. T. J. Miller’s in this, which was another concern since he’s not that funny and his accusations damaged his likability for a while, depending on who likes him. But he didn’t ruin the film’s tone, even when he’s the comic relief (of course) and the jokes didn’t work for me.

Its 95-minute runtime felt like a PG-13 mixture of Alien, The Descent, and Life without the intensity of the former. Director William Eubank (LoveThe Signal) makes the deep water setting claustrophobic and feels like we’re finding the way to reach safety too. There were also good visuals in it that luckily didn’t take me out. But with making a thriller look like it’s underwater, it was hard trying to see what was going on since it’s in a dark depth environment. Because there was one instance where I thought Stewart’s character was talking one character, and I realize it was the wrong person when it showed him.

Though Brian Duffield (The Divergent Series: Insurgent) and Adam Cozad (The Legend of Tarzan)’s script isn’t exactly horrible, cliche is the right word to describe it in a nutshell. It doesn’t have any effort on being anything new or possibly not caring who bites it at a certain point in the story. And the jump scares weren’t effective in the slightest. At least it started quickly with the disaster hitting the fan to get to the plot in a way that didn’t need patting out. Not only that, you don’t get this sense of really caring about these characters since they weren’t given much development. There were a couple of moments they bring their personal lives up, but other than that, it was the aspect of the movie that lacked.

Underwater wasn’t the most terrible horror movie to come out of a January release, but it sort of lands at being just decent altogether where it’s not anything to give me nightmares. There were a few moments of tension, while it was a bit difficult to know what was happening due to the setting. Just when it got to the ending, I didn’t think it would wrap up quickly and be on our merry way. In the end, I disliked the way it wrapped up. Part of me just wished this cast were in a better movie. It’s best to say just wait and rent it later on in a few months.

Grade: C+

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