“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.” – Mark Twain
I wasn’t entirely sold on William Eubank’s Underwater after leaving the theatre.
I’d seen that kind of film before in movies like Alien, Resident Evil, The Abyss, Leviathan, Deep Rising and Deep Star Six. It didn’t feel like it was giving me too much of anything new (especially when compared to last year’s genuinely jumpworthy Crawl), but I have to admit I did spent quite a bit of the film watching it from between my fingers. I’ll give it that. Additionally, I have to give the movie credit for taking no time to get things moving and staying pretty even throughout. Within 5 to 10 minutes of the movie’s start, you’re thrust right into a mix of terror from the unknown and claustrophobic environments. For someone with an attention span as short as mine, it’s impressive to see a film hit the ground running like that. It’s the kind of opening one would expect from one of the John Wick films. Longtime readers here on the Lens know that January really isn’t the month for the greatest films, though every once in a while, you’ll have one or two that dowell.
I think enjoying Underwater may be dependent how much comparing is done between it and older films. If you walk in blind, not expecting anything and are just looking to be entertained, you may enjoy the film more than I did. Do you absolutely have to rush to a movie theatre to see it? No, I don’t feel you do. Give it 3 months and you’ll have it on Digital/Blu-Ray. Would I run back to it in the theatre? Nah. If you’re a Kristen Stewart fan, or if the film’s something you’re genuinely interested in, have at it.
A group of miners find themselves struggling to survive after their rig suffers intense damage. Their goal is to reach a set of escape pods that can take them to the surface, but reaching it poses a set of challenges. The team comes to find that they may not be alone in the depths, which adds to their problems.
The cast does well as can be expected, with Kristen Stewart (Charlie’s Angels) taking the lead as Norah, the team’s engineer. Joining her are Vincent Cassel (Eastern Promises) as the Captain, Jessica Henwick (Marvel’s Iron Fist) as the biology scientist, John Gallagher, Jr. (Hush), Mamoudou Athie (The Get Down), and JT Miller (Deadpool) as the comic relief. JT Miller in particular voices what would be the audience’s take as a fellow who just wants to get out of the situation. It’s Stewart and Henwick that carry the most weight with the film, and they handle it well. Their characters are smart and try their best to make it through the situations presented to them.
Visually, Underwater’s deep sea sequences have an interesting feel to them. Some of them feel more like the shaky cam shots from As Above So Below. There’s a bit of claustrophobia with watching certain scenes from behind the helmets. The monsters themselves are reminiscent of the ones you’d find in Cloverfield or The Mist with a number of jumpscares throughout. There’s very little in the way of blood and gore, since the film is PG-13.
I would have liked a larger body count. For the size of the rig, part of me expected to see more then just the 6 or 7 characters we have. Seeing more individuals face the creatures or the crumbling buildings could have added a bit of weight. That’s just a nitpick. The Nostromo was huge, yet only had a crew of seven.
Overall, I enjoyed Underwater more than I thought I would. It spends a lot of time doing things that other films already did, but does so in such a way where it’s not entirely wasted.