Everybody knows Jaws. The elevator pitch of a small town being terrorised by a great white shark is a great one. What transformed the film into the legendary tentpole of cinematic history it has become is not the shark itself, but the story and the characters: fully realised humans with motivations, arcs and flaws. Some filmmakers have forgotten this important distinction, thinking the reason behind Jaws success was the horror of the shark.
This is one of the core reasons why 47 Meters Down fails to engage. Focusing on the jump scares of the sharp-toothed fish, rather than developing the two sisters any further than one wishing revenge on an ex through great photos of their trip. This means that when the going gets tough these thinly and tremendously under-developed characters leave us cold. You’re indifferent as to whether they live or die.
There’s something to be said for the unpretentious nature of the film. It keeps its premise as simple as they come, which should have benefited the film. Johannes Roberts’ odd direction means that only the jump scares really work. The supposedly moving conversations between the two sisters are so tone-deaf and mistimed that they prompt titters rather than tears.
There are far worse films in existence, but few boast the frustration of potentially offering so much and delivering on so little. With characters and a narrative as thin as tracing paper, you need to have some wondrous directing, editing and writing. Alas, 47 Meters Down does not.
When a set of characters are trapped 47 meters down in a cage surrounded by sharks, the narrative’s potential is far from endless. In the hands of a better director, however, that potential could have been fully realised. 47 Meters Down is a disappointing, poorly-constructed piece of filmmaking.
CAST: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Chris Johnson, Yani Gellman
DIRECTOR: Johannes Roberts
WRITERS: Johannes Roberts, Ernest Riera
SYNOPSIS: Two friends are exploring the deep blue sea until something goes wrong. As they submerge 47 meters they encounter a creature that only wants flesh and blood. As they fight their way back to the top, they shortly run out of oxygen. With only an hour left they’re not only racing against time – they’re racing against life and death.