It’s summertime, so it’s not surprising that yet another shark movie is hitting the multiplexes, and this latest offering, “47 Meters Down,” is likely to keep a number of folks away from the ocean’s beaches, or at least make them think twice before dipping their toes in the briny sea.
The good news here is that the overall look of the film, the timing of the “gotcha!” scares, the digitally created sharks, and the casting of Mandy Moore and Claire Holt as the two principal stars all make for a very satisfying plunge into a genre that has been happily frightening audiences since Spielberg’s “Jaws” in 1975.
Moore and Holt play two very different sisters vacationing at a Mexican resort. Moore’s Lisa is the conservative one who always follows the rules and isn’t into taking risks. Kate, played with great aplomb by Australian actress Holt, loves pushing the envelope and having all kinds of exotic adventures. When two guys the sisters meet in the resort bar entice them with the chance to go diving with sharks, Kate, not surprisingly, leaps at the idea and works steadfastly to convince her very reluctant sibling to join the fun. The hook for Lisa turns out to be the sneaky dare her sister throws out: using photos of the shark diving to lure back the boyfriend who just dumped her.
So, off the women go, joining a ragtag team on a rusty hulk of a boat, with a less-than-secure-looking shark cage attached to the rear. Captained by a grizzled American expat (Matthew Modine, who does a nice job with a fairly minimal role), the sisters get in the cage, thinking they will only be dropped down about five meters. The skipper’s less-than-intensive questioning of the girls’ scuba skills (Lisa has none; Kate is a certified diver) comes into play once the cage’s cable snaps, plunging them down to the ocean floor, with rapidly expiring air supplies.
While the plot is a bit shaky in parts, the overall effect of creating needed tension and some outright, out-of-your-seat jumps of fright is quite effective. This is a nice, pretty taut thriller, which differs from some past shark flicks in that this is about inexperienced humans invading the sharks’ territory, as opposed to the predators swimming menacingly into our own shallow waters.
Entertainment Studios presents a film directed by Johannes Roberts and written by Roberts and Ernest Riera. Rated PG-13 (for sequences of intense, peril, bloody images, and brief strong language). Running time: 89 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.