I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Connor Bynum // Film Critic
Shark movies have always been an interesting sub-genre of horror films. Ever since the release of Steven Spielberg’s timeless classic JAWS, audiences have been either pleasantly amused or painfully embarrassed by the dozens of features attempting to capitalize on our fear of nature’s greatest killer. After the surprisingly enjoyable Blake Lively thriller THE SHALLOWS, I was under the impression that our latest venture into the deep, 47 METERS DOWN, might be able to replicate such success. I was dead wrong.
For a film that’s entire premise is built upon its characters being trapped at the bottom of the ocean, it ironically offers very little depth in almost every way. Starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holdt as sisters, Lisa and Kate, the film spends very little of its scant 89-minute run-time on trivial things like character development or emotional resonance with the audience. After establishing that the sisters have ventured out on a spontaneous trip to Mexico to get away from it all, Lisa almost immediately reveals to Kate that her boyfriend broke up with her because she was too boring for him and only went on the trip to show that she can be more fun. Rather than telling Lisa that she doesn’t need to impress some jerk to have worth as a person, Kate suggests that they up the ante and go cage diving with sharks. That way they can then send pictures to said jerk and convince him to give Lisa another chance. [insert this gif] The whole reason this movie even exists is built upon an insecure girl risking her life all to impress a boy.
To no one’s surprise, things don’t go well for duo as the film figuratively throws red flag after red flag at the audience. The boat is owned by two locals who are not licensed to go on shark diving excursions. The boat looks like it could break down any second. The cage is a giant box of tetanus waiting to happen. The crane responsible for holding the cage is beyond repair. So they go anyway, and the cage immediately plummets to the ocean floor. Now Lisa and Kate must make their limited oxygen supply last as they are trapped, with no ability to communicate with the world above, and surrounded by dozens of great white sharks.
Plenty of films in the past have done perfectly fine with being stuck primarily in one location with limited ways to progress the plot. 127 HOURS, BURIED and GRAVITY are perfect examples of how films can still be interesting with well-written and performed characters. The same cannot be said for 47 METERS DOWN. Since Lisa and Kate have special diving masks that cover their entire face, they have the ability to talk to each other via radio. This would have been fine if they knew when to stop talking. The amount of times they narrate what is happening becomes laughably obnoxious and distracting. If one were to take a drink for every time a character said they were running out of air, they would be dead before the credits rolled.
But alright… the story is dumb and the characters are weak. This is a shark movie after all. Surely the film can find redemption in some good jump scares and well-paced tension when the sharks show up. Sadly, even the biggest reason audiences would pay to see a shark movie is hit and miss at best for this film. The computer-generated work used for the sharks varies from passable to simply bad. Without treading into spoiler territory, people hoping for a tooth-and-fin filled climax will likely walk out disappointed.
47 METERS DOWN is not a good movie. While a handful of scares and decent camera work are marginally redemptive at best, it is a wonder that this movie did not go straight to TV or the bargain bin.
So, do yourselves a favor and go see WONDER WOMAN (again) and let this clunker sink even further to the bottom.
47 METERS DOWN opens Friday (6/16).