Ever since 1975’s Jaws, it has been clear that we can all relate to a fear of drowning and being mauled by a shark. With a recent spate of films in a similar vein (Open Water 2003, The Shallows 2016), you would be forgiven for wondering if there is anything new filmmakers could bring to the genre. 47 Meters Down delivers exactly what you would expect – two attractive females trapped in a cage, threatened by sharks and suffocation.
Whilst this may not be the classic that Jaws was, it is a well crafted movie. From the opening moments, the sound editing is precisely executed to keep tension levels high. The crisp and beautiful cinematography is influenced by the work of Jonathan Glazer and Daniel Landin. The high production values could be thanks to the Weinstein brothers’ roles as executive producers. Mandy Moore also brings a solid performance to the table. Thankfully, there isn’t a noticeable over reliance on CGI and that pared back approach give the narrative a grounding. The effects that are used are believable and add to the claustrophobic atmosphere.
Like The Descent (2005), it is a female cast which leads the story. Whilst this is a welcome move, the two characters here are middle class white women and the implication is that Mexico’s lack of safety regulations are to blame for their plight. The characters aren’t fleshed out at all, and are unfortunately stereotypical archetypes that we are all too familiar with. The Descent, by comparison painted credible backstory and created empathy with the characters in just a few strokes.
There are many inaccuracies – such as the claim that sharks can be as large as 28 feet long, or that fact that their ear drums were not ruptured by a high speed descent to the ocean floor. This is perhaps forgivable as there is dramatic license. You certainly could do worse, and this is no brainless summer blockbuster. You will find yourself holding your breath and straining your ears right along with the protagonists. 47 Meters Down will enthral you for an hour and a half – but won’t stay with you after that.
47 Meters Down is in cinemas from August 26th.