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47 Meters Down
It's not safe to get out of the water in director Johannes Roberts's streamlined horror thriller. 47 Metres Down pits two pretty girls against one of cinema's most deadly and tenacious predators - the great white shark. Unlike Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic Jaws or yesteryear's surprisingly entertaining The Shallows starring Blake Lively, Roberts's picture subverts the usual damsel in distress set-up by stranding his protagonists beneath the waves. A diminishing oxygen supply and decompression sickness pose as much of a threat as the rapacious killing machines, and the stricken characters are compelled to make snap decisions that could condemn a sister in peril to a watery grave. The script, co-written by Ernest Riera, is disappointingly light on scares except for one devilish sting in the tail that is immediately tempered by a soothing note of (false) hope. A paucity of footage with real-life sharks reflects the picture's exceedingly modest budget and also limits opportunities for the director to inflict bodily damage on his lead actresses. Clad in wetsuits and illuminated diving masks, Mandy Moore and Claire Holt rely almost entirely on facial expressions to convey their terror and delirium. There are only so many ways they can hyperventilate or stare wide-eyed into the murk. Lisa (Moore) and her sister Kate (Holt) go on holiday to sun-kissed Mexico, where Lisa reveals that her boyfriend Stuart has just dumped her because he thinks she is boring. Lisa is determined to prove him wrong and the girls go out drinking, and enjoy a steamy night with two locals, Benjamin (Santiago A Segura) and Louis (Yani Gellman). The following morning, the sisters accompany Benjamin and Louis on a cage dive in shark-infested waters. "It's like going to the zoo - except you're in a cage ... under water," quips Benjamin. Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine) and his assistant Javier (Chris J Johnson) take the quartet out to sea, where the men dive first and return safely to the surface. Lisa and Kate go next and the rig holding the cage in place collapses, sending the sisters plummeting towards the sea floor. Trapped inside the cage, Lisa and Kate must overcome their fears to find a way back to the surface without ending up as a tasty snack for the great white sharks. 47 Metres Down is an efficient battle between humans and merciless Mother Nature, which milks a modicum of tension from a simple premise. The narrative treads water between predictable set pieces as the script contrives reasons to keep the sisters underwater while their oxygen gauges approach empty. With only half a dozen characters as potential shark bait, Roberts can't slaughter to his heart's desire but when razor sharp teeth do sink into gym-toned flesh, it's suitably graphic.