SHOCK reviews the terrifying new killer shark movie IN THE DEEP.
I just finished watching the Johannes (THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR) Roberts directed, Alexandre Aja produced IN THE DEEP (aka 47 METERS DOWN), a crackerjack slab of sharksploitation survivalist horror that basically kicked my ass. And thus, only base, visceral expletives would suffice in opening this review.
The film stars Mandy Moore and Claire Holt as sisters on vacation in beautiful Mexico. Moore is getting over a bad breakup that has hit her hard and, after partying with a pair of handsome young adventurers, the women decide to take them up on their offer to go shark diving. Moore has trepidations, Holt is gung ho and the latter lady wins and off they go in salty captain Matthew Modine’s boat. Of course it’s a huge mistake and of course bad things are bound to happen because this is a horror movie about killer sharks, after all…
Once out in the brine, the lads convince the sisters to suit up and jump inside the boat’s ramshackle shark cage, where they’ll be able to get up close and personal with a monstrous Great White that is circling them. Although terrified, the women put their faith in Modine’s confident sailor and literally dive right in. But when they’ve had enough and ask the men to haul them back to the surface, the line snaps and the cage goes crashing to the bottom of the bloody ocean, the heavy iron pulley slamming on top of the cage just to make sure the pair are weighted down proper.
As the girls struggle to conserve air and stay calm, that damned shark comes to call. And it’s super hungry.
The generically titled IN THE DEEP (which was also the original title of the recent and less successful girl vs shark thriller THE SHALLOWS) is a solid, nerve-shattering piece of work, doling out its horror with sophistication and ensuring that its female leads are fully developed and likeable before they end up in their nightmarish predicament. And once they are trapped in their metal prison, we like them even more. These are not cliche, shrieking horror movie maidens in distress, these are resilient, rational humans in an unthinkable situation. And we’re stuck there, right along with them.
Now, it goes without saying that the standard by which all sharksploitation horror movies must measure up is JAWS. And indeed JAWS is a perfect movie, in every respect. And part of the reason JAWS became and remains so successful and effective is that rich, evocative John Williams score, with its chilling string based theme and sweeping orchestral adventure cues. Most killer shark flicks made in JAWS’ wake unfortunately forget that music is key to drawing out horror but not Roberts. Since a bulk of the movie takes place underwater, an organic, familiar setting, the director smartly employs electronic ambient act tomandandy to compose the score and it’s an aural masterpiece. Right from the opening credits, the band turns water into something alien, secret and lethal, bathing our ears with grinding, post-industrial dread. It’s a magnificent and moody tapestry of sound that helps anchor the movie in a consistent and often unbearably intense feeling of unease.
But IN THE DEEP is not JAWS, of course. I don’t think it pretends to be. It simply wants to scare the shit out of you and make you afraid to go swimming while also delivering an elegant, stylish piece of pop cinema in the process.
And on that note, it’s a rousing success.
See this movie.
IN THE DEEP will release on DVD and VOD on August 2nd.