Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
Nestled seven miles underneath the ocean’s surface lays a huge deep-sea drilling structure which houses hundreds of workers. As UNDERWATER opens, we see a scantily dressed Norah (a buffed and shorn Kristen Stewart) and hear her spout profound inanities that we, the audience, eventually learn has nothing significant to do with the plot, in a somber voiceover as she tries to rescue a daddy long legs spider from the bathroom sink. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose with sirens screeching as the underwater station starts to shake violently. Norah along with another worker (Mamoudou Athie) run towards a safe place while many perish in a spectacular wave of water worthy of Cecil B. deMille. Finding solace in an airlocked part of the structure along with the Captain (Vincent Cassel) and three others: the comic relief (T.J. Miller), the screamer (Jessica Henwick) and the bland (john Gallagher Jr,), they all come to the conclusion that safety lies deeper down on the ocean floor and they all must get to the main drilling station. Wearing deep-sea helmeted spacesuits, they begin their perilous journey to an ominous Soundtrack. Are we hearing the further deterioration of the drilling station or is it even worst? Like big, fat, ugly, scary sea monsters?
I define movies like UNDERWATER, with affection, as “elemental”. The Filmmakers use elements of movies they admire and try to make it their own. With UNDERWATER, the primary inspirational source that comes to mind is ALIEN (even down to the females in the Cast stripped down their scanty underwear as they run towards salvation), but Director William Eubank pays homage to GODZILLA and there is one scene that reminded me of the classic COMA starring Canada’s own Genevieve Bujold. But all these elements come together and, more importantly, work together well in this Movie. UNDERWATER is claustrophobic and creepy. The jump-start scares are effective. Creatures and characters spectacularly explode in a mess of PG-13 gory glory. Who needs character development and motivations when all we want to know if the sea monsters will survive or meet the same fate as the shark did in JAWS?
UNDERWATER brings to the theatres something we very rarely see during the bitterly cold winter months; it’s a great popcorn flick. Put your critical brain on hold and enjoy this for what it is: a damn fine scary movie!
20th Century Fox Canada release UNDERWATER Friday, January 10, 2020.