Underwater is a claustrophobic horror film that takes place 7 miles underwater. (Jeepers, that’s the title!) If this came out in any other month, I’d be pretty excited for this flick. But it doesn’t. It came out in January, the shitty month where studios dump their shitty shit movies. There are some exceptions, (see Split) but most are trash. (see Norm of the North) So does Underwater suffer from a bad case of the Januarys? Or did someone at 20th Century Fox throw this in the January bin on accident?
I’m sorry guys, it belongs in the Bad Bin.
It starts out promising enough. The first few shots showed that director William Eubank knew his way around a camera. It does a pretty great job giving you a sense of the characters’ surroundings and the mindset that they are in. Then shit goes down, and for a good fifteen minutes, this movie had direction. And it was spooky and stylish. Then the characters started to talk. Then T.J. Miller’s character wouldn’t shut up. Then the same scare started to happen again and again. Then the pacing went to hell. Then I got bored. And then I got sad. I started to see the January lurking within.
There is some good to be found here, but you really have to work to find it. There are multiple muddy and confusing sequences that could be made great with the addition of a single shot. The movie loves two particular shots: a close up on Kristen Stewart, and a POV. It uses these two types of shots on countless occasions, and it always feels disjointed and messy. In a movie like this, a sense of scale and an understanding of the surroundings are essential. This is why I was so impressed with the beginning. I knew where the characters were, what they needed to accomplish, and where the monsters could come from. Then they go outside of their research center or whatever the hell it was, and all tension was completely drained from the movie. From that point on, I had no idea where anyone was, I had no idea where they were going, but worst of all, I didn’t know where the monsters could come from. In Alien, a movie that Underwater desperately wants to be, you have a brilliant sense of Ripley’s surroundings. You know that the Xenomorph is on that ship somewhere, and you are constantly guessing and theorizing about where that cranky alien is at. In Underwater, all that is gone. All you know about the characters’ surroundings is that it’s extremely dark and extremely underwater. The Bad-Slimy-Bois just show up every ten minutes or so to make sure the audience is awake. I don’t know where they came from, they just stopped by because they needed to give one of the lesser cast members a good ol’ yank. It is mind-numbing. The last act is better, but it still suffers from weak characters and shoddy pacing.
With all that said… still the best movie of the decade so far.
I give Underwater my rating of:
A Soggy Mess! AAAHHAAHAAHAA Water Puns! Gotta Love ‘Em!