Story: A deep sea underwater research and drilling facility gets hit with a series of earthquakes that leave only six people alive after the devastation. But wait just a minute…what’s that in the water? THAT WAS NO EARTHQUAKE Y’ALL.
Genre I’d put it in: Bland But Watchable Genre Rehash
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: While you’ll notice “homages” to many creature features here, this film is an original.
Gotta say: Think of Underwater as a regular ol’ orange. It’s okay, it’s juicy enough, and it does the job of feeding your pie-hole. But you’d much rather sink into a delicious navel orange, amirite? With bits cribbed from The Descent, The Meg, Cloverfield and a bazillion deep sea thrillers, this movie gets lost in a tidal wave of genre tropes, but the cast is game enough to keep things afloat. Water puns are fun!
As the shell-shocked but driven to survive Nora, Kristen is used beautifully here. Her deadpan seems tailor made for the character and situation, and Stewart even gets a chance to really emote at the film’s climax. She’s definitely too good for this film, but I’m fine with that. Ditto Black Swan‘s Vincent Cassel as the crew’s Captain, who adds more with his expressions than the boilerplate script ever intended. TJ Miller plays TJ Miller, the requisite horror movie foul-mouthed comic relief complete with tiny stuffed bunny he’s super attached to. The other three are pretty much there for body count possibilities; The Young Cute Girl, Her Crush, and naturally The Black Dude Who Does What All Lone Black Dudes Do In Horror Movies. Yeah, spoilers yada yada. But y’all know this story. It’s whether or not you want to see what’s in the deep.
And y’know what? You kinda do. Riffing off the creatures in The Descent, with strange mouths that hark back to films like Krampus, Underwater‘s FX team does a great job bringing these mermen/octopus/blob-things to life. With a few surprises here and there, these monsters are a lot of fun, and director William Eubank knows not to overshow his spooky hand. (In fact, as much as I enjoyed seeing these creatures on screen, this film would have worked just as well as a pure thriller with zero creature feature.)
With TJ Miller’s character quoting Alice in Wonderland – complete with stuffed white rabbit bestie and “We’re All Mad Here” graffiti on his deep sea suit – it’s clear Stewart’s platinum blonde Nora is supposed to be experiencing a similar but more terrifying story. However, it’s not a connection I’d have made if it wasn’t pushed down my throat by all that symbolism. The plot is your typical evade-the-monster-get-to-safety story, with nothing much to recommend it beyond star power. Still, it’d make a fun Netflix night, especially if you’ll be serving calamari and Moon Pies. Damn but I love me a theme night.
Congratulations on the new digs/car/mortgage payment, Kristen and the rest of the cast. There are far worse “took this one for the cash” grabs out there, and with moments of goofy B-Movie fun, Underwater‘s ninety-plus minute run time ain’t so bad. It’s not good, but it’s passable. Now pass me a naval orange.
#Protip: Worried about monsters coming up from the super-deep deep? (#SCIENCEWORDS) Don’t worry; those suckers wouldn’t last long, unless someone’s gonna treat them with kid gloves as those creatures ascend. And I’m betting that’d be a big ol’ nope.