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John’s Horror Corner: Underwater (2020), a healthy dash of The Abyss (1989) and a deep sea secret ingredient…

April 16, 2020

MY CALL: I really enjoyed this! It’s no classic or anything, but it’s very well-made, well-acted, well-written and boasts excellent visuals and energy. MORE MOVIES LIKE Underwater: For more strangeness at sea, go for The Abyss (1989) or Cold Skin (2017).

36,000 feet deep, under tons of pressure and reaching the Mariana Trench a company managed to build a deep-sea mining facility. And not ten minutes into the movie the worst possible thing that could happen happens: there’s “a leak.” Running, screaming, compressions, explosions… in lieu of anything resembling an introductory first act the excitement starts right away and the urgency sets in fast as crewmen navigate collapsed hallways to escape flooding, crawl through claustrophobic crevices passing a harrowingly dead comrade, and burrow through cement rubble to save another.

Our survivors include Norah (Kristen Stewart; Snow White and the Huntsman, Jumper, The Messengers), Captain (Vincent Cassel; Westworld, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Black Swan), Paul (T.J. Miller; Deadpool 1-2, Ready Player One, Cloverfield), Rodrigo (Mamoudou Athie; The Circle, Jurassic World: Dominion), Smith (John Gallagher Jr.; 10 Cloverfield Lane, Hush, The Belko Experiment) and Emily (Jessica Henwick; Game of Thrones, Godzilla vs. Kong, Iron Fist, Star Wars Episode VII).

Faced with impending crushing doom if they remain, Captain advises they all “walk” miles across the ocean floor to another work site despite the tremendous danger in doing so. But however dire things may seem, this is where things get fun. Sure, Norah and Captain are our brass tacks pragmatists, but Paul (Miller) is here to bring moments of levity in the form of dry humor—and I love him for it. As their suit spotlights blare but fade into the distance of sea dust and darkness, we feel tiny and consider what lies in the dark depths beyond their lights’ reach. Giant squids or other sea monsters, Lovecraft’s Dagon and his deep ones, toe-pinching crabs… or nothing more than dive suit crushing water pressure and a limited oxygen supply?

Director William Eubank (The Signal) delivers an energized movie based more on event and action than story or character arc. And everything about this movie was good. The mining facility sets look good, I love the CGI depths, the deep sea suits look great, and when someone dies you feel it (more gut-punching shock than emotional loss). In fact, the occasional dead body or death scene will take you quite off guard.

I really enjoyed this. But make no mistake, there is no depth to the plot. The plot is suuuuper basic. But that also doesn’t matter because I liked the appearance and performances and writing (for characters) and the events were exciting and the effects were cool. Solid Friday night popcorn flick. Watch it with the lights off since so many scenes are dark and any glare from a light in the house will hurt the experience.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2020 7:32 am

    Great film, I really enjoyed Underwater as well, it was a much better movie than I expected.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      April 17, 2020 9:26 am

      I’m with you. Basically every filmmaking layer from acting to production and sets was excellent. And the characters worked well.

      • April 17, 2020 3:03 pm

        Agreed, its a great looking movie, I thought the story and cast was really good, and the effects were also very impressive.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      April 17, 2020 3:54 pm

      Yeah, they did a LOT with the effects. I loved all the creatures and all the deep debris-cloudy sea shots.


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