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Review: 47 Meters Down – “Genuinely scary”

47 Metres Down is written and directed by Johannes Roberts (F, Storage 24) and stars Mandy Moore (Tangled), Claire Holt (The Vampire Diaries), and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket).

Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Holt) are two sisters on holiday in Mexico. One is uptight and one is the kind of person who keeps all their festival wristbands on, and after partying the night away with a pair of cute boys who are all tight butts and Billabong board shorts they find themselves heading to sea the next morning, hungover, lads in tow, to go shark diving.

The boat looks like a piece of crap, and the shark cage is rusty, but the sisters lie about having done scuba diving before to the weathered and sun-bleached Captain Taylor (Modine) so as not to lose face in front of the fearless fellas who have already been down and come back up all smiles.

So they clamber in, get lowered down, and the winch promptly breaks – sending them plummeting 47 METRES DOWN to the shark-infested sea bed. They cannot swim back to the surface because they would get the bends and die, so the siblings are left stranded and running out of air, with their blood in the water and enormous 20-foot sharks closing in.

Johannes Roberts handles the man-eaters masterfully. The sense of scale of the great whites is genuinely scary, and they are fast, smart and appear as if from nowhere from the dark waters. The shark fly-bys are pant-browning, and it is not just the girls in the cage who are left on the verge of a panic attack.

A faint radio signal from Captain Taylor recommends they sit tight and preserve oxygen so that they don’t lose their minds and then die, but the girls still attempt to get out and up – baiting the sharks and giving us some viscerally thrilling sequences and two money shots that provide a pair of massive jumps.

Moore and Holt are acceptable and standard. They hit the plot points they need to but leave us feeling little for them and particularly uninvested in their welfare beyond looking forward to them inducing more sharky shenanigans. Their dialogue would fail the Bechdel Test – even underwater, surrounded by sharks(!), and their performances are also hampered by being stuck behind heavy bulky breathing apparatus and massive goggles.

Modine seems cool and promising as the grizzled and confident Captain, but has surprisingly and disappointingly little to do which is a real shame and waste. The tension is ratcheted up by a thumping and fear-fuelling tomandandy (Rules of Attraction, Killing Zoe) score, and 47 Metres Down has a semi-awesome ending that it unfortunately slightly chickens out of halfway through.

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