47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Premise: A sequel to the 2017 film. A group of teenagers scuba dive in the submerged ruins of a Mayan city. When part of the structure collapses, they are trapped in the dark with a great white shark.
What Works: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is a sharksploitation picture. Movies like this are about the primal terror of being eaten alive and Uncaged successfully exploits those fears. It gets underway quickly, putting a group of young women in peril and the film is quite scary. Filmmaker Johannes Roberts, who also directed the original 47 Meters Down as well as The Strangers: Prey at Night, has a talent for staging frightening sequences. The sequel may replicate a lot of its predecessor but it is justified insofar as it does some of those same things better. The special effects are well done; the mass and texture of aquatic creatures are difficult to get right but the sharks are convincing. Uncaged is a very polished movie with high production values and it has some striking and unsettling images. As much as the movie recalls shark attack and slasher films, Uncaged is also comparable to The Descent. Just like the 2006 monsters-in-a-cave movie, the claustrophobia of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is oftentimes even more frightening than the sharks.
What Doesn’t: The 47 Meters Down sequel recycles a lot from the first movie. Its lead characters are again a pair of sister who go on a diving expedition against one of the sibling’s better judgement. The girls are nearly saved by male divers until the sharks intervene and the sequel even recreates the climax of the 2017 movie (although thankfully it does not pull the same annoying fake out). Uncaged is very reminiscent of the slasher films of the 1980s—it’s about teenage girls stalked in the dark by a silent killer that picks them off one at a time. A lot of those slasher sequels were also remakes of their progenitors so it’s fair to cut Uncaged some slack. But this film is really dumb. Some of the problems are plot contrivances; the teens find scuba equipment just sitting out in the middle of nowhere unattended and that’s what they use to dive. The story takes place in Mexico but there are virtually no Hispanic characters in the movie. Uncaged also plays fast and loose with shark behavior and biology. Great white sharks have to keep moving and they cannot swim backwards but this shark chases the divers through crevasses where there is no room to turn around. The experienced diver of the group, who is supposed to know what she’s doing, says some really stupid things about evolution and shark biology. The girls also aren’t characterized very well. Unlike the first movie, which spent some time on the outset giving the sisters a backstory, the young women of Uncaged are barely teen slasher movie stereotypes.
Bottom Line: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is intended to thrill and frighten and the movie succeeds in doing that. But were it not for the filmmakers’ polish and craft this would be a direct-to-video sharksploitation title like Bait or Deep Blue Sea 2.
Episode: #763 (August 25, 2019)