PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Try swimming in the ocean after sitting through this.
In a tradition begun by Jaws and extended by Open Water and The Shallows comes 47 Meters Down, a nifty little thriller about thrill seekers in shark-infested waters that delivers quite the scare package in the name of summer escapism.
Mandy Moore and Claire Holt play Lisa and Kate, respectively, American sisters on vacation in Mexico who meet Benjamin (Santiago Segura) and Louis (Yani Gelman), who convince them that diving with sharks makes for an entertaining outing.
Kate is up for anything and Lisa would like to demonstrate that she’s not as boring as the ex who broke up with her seemed to think, so they sign up with skipper Matthew Modine without realizing that if there is a mechanical malfunction while they are being lowered into the ocean in the rickety-looking dive cage, in scuba gear with oxygen tanks, they could end up trapped underwater in the dark 47 meters down (that’s about 155 feet) and out of radio range and – let’s not forget this — surrounded by enormous circling sharks.
Which they do.
British horror director Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Dark, Hellbreeder, Darkhunters), working from a script he co-wrote with Ernest Riera, achieves an impressive level of grip-the-armrest tension without a lot of fuss and pretty much traps a nervous, appreciative audience in that cage on the ocean floor with the protagonists, staying with their point-of-view as they desperately struggle to survive.
And those computer-generated great white sharks swimming up close and personal through that cloudy water while the sisters’ oxygen runs out sure look real.
47 Meters Down is lean and focused and taut, a claustrophobic, mostly-underwater shocker with effective jump scares and an impressively intense level of dread.
This is a movie that knows exactly what it is and delivers handily on its promise.
Think of it as a full-length version of the spine-tinglingly frightening scene in Jaws in which Richard Dreyfuss climbs into the shark cage and is lowered into the water as a potential great white snack.
So we’ll dive to a depth of 3 stars out of 4. 47 Meters Down is a terrifying, resourceful, literally breathless thriller that just might keep you out of the water and on the beach at vacation time.