‘Underwater’ Review: The plot scares itself more than the viewers

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The first creature feature of 2020 drunk dives into theaters this Friday. Starring T.J. Miller and Kristen Stewart, the film follows a group of researchers in an underwater lab at eleven thousand meters deep.

When an earthquake causes the vehicle to be destroyed and exposes the team to the risk of death, they are forced to walk deep into the sea with insufficient oxygen to try to survive. However, as they move across the seafloor, they discover the presence of deadly creatures.

Fair warning, we go straight down to spoiler zone below this trailer.

Review

From the start of the film, things go downhill quickly. I am not talking about the fact that the underwater rig starts to implode. I am talking about the disjointed dialog, sloppy character development and barely audible conversations. Had this still been 2019 I would have potentially put this film in my list of worst underwater/sea monster films of all time. Alas, we are in a new decade, so we have yet to see where this will rank.

It is one thing to find dialog hard to understand when things are going crazy. Yet with Underwater, even during the dark quiet moments in the deep ocean, we can barely understand what is being said. We jump around during important scenes where we are lead to believe things like re-breathers are broken, then speed off to being back in the water, all good to go.

For a film that touts itself as a sci-fi horror film, the characters felt more scared of plot progression than viewers will be of the film itself. Other than 1 or 2 in your face jump scares, the rest of the film is ‘Alien lite’. They have a hard time seeing 7 miles down, and we have a hard time seeing anything either. There are a few gruesome deaths as expected but most are hidden under dark red waters and screaming.

The writers fail to deliver on the promise of something greater. Like mentioning that the water 7 miles down heated up 10 degrees in a matter of hours (which is a HUGE deal), and then completely ignoring it the rest of the film. We never learn what exactly they were mining, or what they bored into that released the underwater monsters of the film.

Story?

The movie feels derivative of so many films before it from Sphere to The Meg and even a scene reminiscent of Gravity.  When the ‘boss’ finally shows itself, I am left flabbergasted. We get a Lovecraftian style mega-monster, a king of the monsters in many ways. The film doesn’t bother to explain any of it, and it’s so far fetched, I think the writers just threw some shit on the wall and decided to see what stuck.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good monster flick. And this Lovecraftian monster would have been great with the proper plot setup and fleshing out the details. Instead, the film spent more time trying to convince us that Stewart, is overcoming something special, by defeating the big monster under the sea while pressing buttons and whisper in half sentences.

Our final word: Underwater was drowning before audiences arrived and like the movie Sphere, audiences should just make a pact to forget it ever existed.

Robert Prentice