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Review: Underwater (2020)

Underwater (2020)

Directed by: William Eubank

Premise: A sci-fi horror film taking place in a deep sea oil rig facility. The rig is crippled by a series of explosions and a group of survivors must find their way to safety while mysterious creatures stalk them through the flooded hallways.

What Works: Underwater is a tight sci-fi horror thriller. This is a survival story and its gets started quickly with the action set off in the opening scene and continuing steadily through the end. For about the first half of the movie, Underwater is simply about escape. A handful of survivors band together to find their way to the escape pods that will take them to the surface. This part of the film plays well. The ruined corridors of the rig are highly detailed and convincing and the sequences of crew members navigating the wreckage are tense and claustrophobic. Underwater uses sound well. The creaking of the structure and the dripping of the water create an impression that the rig might collapse at any moment. The film has an atmosphere of dread that ramps up in the second half when Underwater becomes a monster movie. The crew is stalked by deep sea creatures that have invaded the flooded portions of the rig. The filmmakers use the monsters judiciously, never overexposing the creatures and often hinting at the threat and the attacks are sudden and shocking. The actors contribute a lot to the movie. They keep their characters within relatable human dimensions. No one is overly heroic and everyone appears to be in a state of duress. It’s not showy acting but it is very effective and the actors sell the illusion.

What Doesn’t: Underwater gets down to business with disaster befalling the oil rig within the first few minutes. As a result, we don’t get to know any of these characters in any kind of meaningful way. The actors do an admirable job of giving their characters some personal ticks but they remain within the conventional character types often found in movies like this. But without knowing who these people are it is hard to care about their survival and moments of sacrifice that are supposed to be big emotional payoffs don’t have much impact. A lot of Underwater is familiar to anyone who has seen similar pictures like Deepstar Six and Leviathan and especially the original Alien. It does its genre well but there’s little here that we haven’t seen before.

DVD extras: Commentary track, deleted scenes, and featurettes.

Bottom Line: Underwater is an effective horror thriller. The movie isn’t very original but it is well made and thoroughly entertaining.

Episode: #798 (April 26, 2020)