Director: William Eubank | Writers: Brian Duffield (story/screenplay) Adam Cozad (screenplay) | Released: January 10th 2020 | Run Time: 1h 35min
On the surface, Underwater looked and sounded familiar, like we’ve watched this movie before. From the synopsis to the trailer, it looked like a newer version of Alien and a plethora of other films that copied the same formula, more specifically the deep sea horror sub-genre. But the studio did a great job with the trailers because they really didn’t even scratch the surface of the film. Where other films have failed in this sub-genre, Underwater succeeds.
Underwater is a respectful throwback that pays homage to the horror films that came before it. It’s your typical setup of man using technology to search the unexplored parts of the universe, only to be punished in unimaginable ways for his pride – this punishment is usually doled out by monstrosities. Underwater goes big with the monstrosity and it pays off, instantly making me a fan. It’s worth every penny.
The takes a minimalist approach to the film’s opening sequence with newspaper articles and headlines detailing how humans have discovered the technology to drill into the Mariana Trench and set up a sprawling rig seven miles below sea level. Things go awry really fast. The first character we meet is Norah (Kristen Stewart), one of the rig’s mechanical engineers. She’s getting ready when an earthquake damages the rig causing her to run for her life. The few surviving crew members have to walk two miles on the ocean floor in futuristic diving suits to reach the escape pods. But, you guessed it, the crew is not alone on their journey. Something is lurking out their in the ocean depths.
I couldn’t ask for a better creature feature. Underwater is a bloodcurdling subaqueous monster film. It’s nightmare fuel. You’re going to want to stay out of the water for a while. On one hand it’s panic enducing isolation horror, and on the other, it’s a sci-fi monster movie. As the movie progresses, you get to know more about the characters through dialogue. Kristen Stewart does a great job anchoring Underwater. She makes for a cool, level-headed hero. The supporting actors do a great job bringing a three-dimensional feel to their characters.I felt like some of the emotional parts kind of missed the mark, though. The action-packed sequences will have you on edge. Underwater is anything but predictable. You won’t see any of it coming. The director does a great job of making you feel like anything can and go wrong at any time.
The atmosphere and dread weighs heavy on the chest. You feel what the characters feel, which is claustrophobic and isolated. It brings you and the characters closer together. The cinematography is beautiful. The sights and sounds are spot on. The set pieces play into the story really well. You learn about the characters through their actions. It’s really a story of humanity…seven miles below the ocean’s surface.
The smaller monstrosities make an appearance at the right times. The writers and director timed the appearances perfectly. The story is well-paced, with steadily increased tension, save for a minute or two. The quiet scenes are just as taut with tension as the action sequences. The pitch-black silence of the open water is spine-chilling. The final showdown with the huge monstrosity is everything you could want in an aquatic horror film. It’s one of the best scenes I’ve seen in a long time. Underwater has quickly become one of my favorite horror films.
You can rent or buy Underwater here.
A crew of oceanic researchers working for a deep sea drilling company try to get to safety after a mysterious earthquake devastates their deepwater research and drilling facility located at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.