HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: 47 METERS DOWN (2016)

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47 METERS DOWN (2016)

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Sisters Lisa (singer Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are on vacation in Mexico and decide to go on a boating excursion where they will spend time suspended underwater in a shark cage observing the local great white population. An equipment malfunction occurs during their dive and now the sisters are stranded 47 meters down and running out of oxygen. Worse still, the massive sharks they came to swim amongst surround them, making rescue or escape almost impossible. Will help arrive in time?…or will the sisters become the next meal for the hungry predators.

Originally due to hit theaters back in 2016, 47 Meters Down is a fun and tense action/thriller from director Johannes Roberts (The Other Side Of The Door) which he co-wrote with Ernest Riera. Sure, there is suspension of disbelief and we could have used a bit more shark action, but Roberts keeps the flick moving fast at 80+ minutes and the action of one kind or another is almost constant. There is some nice tension in the atmosphere and we get some engaging and suspenseful set-pieces throughout. It’s all very well staged and the underwater photography avoids being murky, so we never loose track of what is going on. Roberts’ sharks obviously pop up at the most inconvenient times and that adds to the fun and the filmmaker even has the audacity to play with our emotions a bit in the tense last act. And as there are sharks, there is some blood, but the bloodletting is sparse, so when it does come, it has impact and is surprisingly gruesome. The film can be predictable at times, though even when it does, it’s still works to an entertaining degree, as some of the familiar elements are what we came expecting to see from a shark movie anyway.

The cast is small with the focus mostly on Moore and Holt while they spend their terrifying ordeal in the shark cage. Both ladies do well in creating likable and sympathetic characters for us to become endeared to. One of the reasons the film works as well as it does is we like these two girls and want to see them rescued. Matthew Modine plays the tour ship’s captain, but is mostly heard on the radio communicating with his trapped customers and is fine in a role which didn’t really need a name actor.

Simply, this was a fun little movie featuring babes vs sharks. There is some nice suspense and tension, likable characters and when we do get some bloodletting, it is effective and surprisingly gruesome. It can be predictable and we are asked to suspend belief more than once, but the film still entertains and doesn’t try to be any more than it is. A fun underwater thriller with enough bite to keep our interest. More of a straight up action flick than the recent shark drama The Shallows which will obviously draw comparisons.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 great whites who want Moore (sorry, had to!).

in the deep rating
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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IN THE DEEP (2016)

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IN THE DEEP (2016)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Sisters Lisa (singer Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are on vacation in Mexico and decide to go on a boating excursion where they will spend time suspended underwater in a shark cage observing the local great white population. An equipment malfunction occurs during their dive and now the sisters are stranded 47 meters down and running out of oxygen. Worse still, the massive sharks they came to swim amongst surround them, making rescue or escape almost impossible. Will help arrive in time?…or will the sisters become the next meal for the hungry predators.

Originally titled 47 Meters Down, this is a fun and tense action/thriller from director Johannes Roberts (The Other Side Of The Door) which he co-wrote with Ernest Riera. Sure, there is suspension of disbelief and we could have used a bit more shark action, but Roberts keeps the flick moving fast at 87 minutes and the action of one kind or another is almost constant. There is some nice tension in the atmosphere and we get some engaging and suspenseful set-pieces throughout. It’s all very well staged and the underwater photography avoids being murky, so we never loose track of what is going on. Roberts’ sharks obviously pop up at the most inconvenient times and that adds to the fun and the filmmaker even has the audacity to play with our emotions a bit in the tense last act. And as there are sharks, there is some blood, but the bloodletting is sparse, so when it does come, it has impact and is surprisingly gruesome. The film can be predictable at times, though even when it does, it’s still works to an entertaining degree, as some of the familiar elements are what we came expecting to see from a shark movie anyway.

The cast is small with the focus mostly on Moore and Holt while they spend their terrifying ordeal in the shark cage. Both ladies do well in creating likable and sympathetic characters for us to become endeared to. One of the reasons the film works as well as it does is we like these two girls and want to see them rescued. Matthew Modine plays the tour ship’s captain, but is mostly heard on the radio communicating with his trapped customers and is fine in a role which didn’t really need a name actor.

Simply, this was a fun little movie for a night on the couch. There is some nice suspense and tension, likable characters and when we do get some bloodletting, it is effective and surprisingly gruesome. It can be predictable and we are asked to suspend belief more than once, but the film still entertains and doesn’t try to be any more than it is. A fun underwater thriller with enough bite to keep our interest. More of a straight up action flick than the recent shark drama The Shallows (which ironically wore the title In The Deep before it’s release) which will obviously draw comparisons.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 great whites who want Moore (sorry, had to!).

in the deep rating
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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE LAST SHARK (1981)

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THE LAST SHARK (1981)

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Italian Jaws rip-off is most infamous for Universal Pictures having sued it’s makers for plagiarism and getting it’s US release cut short and the film banned on these shores. It didn’t get any kind of official release in North America till it finally showed up on DVD in 2013, after over 30 years in exile.

As a movie, it’s pretty bad. Though, as such, it can be mildly amusing at times, especially when you see Universal’s point…it’s a virtual clone of Spielberg’s classic with a few bits of Jaws 2 thrown in for good measure. Story has an enormous great white shark attacking a beach community with an upcoming windsurfing competition placed in peril. Writer Peter Benton (a nod to Jaws author Peter Benchley?)…played by James Franciscus…and shark hunter Ron Hamer…played by the late, great Vic Morrow, who fades in and out of a Scottish accent…are the only two who can stop it’s rampage, while the local bureaucrats refuse to close the beaches. Sound familiar?

Director Enzo G. Castellari directs the carnage, sadly, by-the-numbers and we actually wish he would have been a bit more over-the-top, as a lot of Italian films notoriously were with material like this. He seems to really want to make a serious shark flick from Marc Princi’s script and we wish he had just cut loose and had a bloodier good time with it. The pacing is very slow for this type of adventure and there are long stretches between the action. At least Castellari’s beast gets more screen time than Spielberg’s monster fish. As for the critter, the shark varies from live footage to a cheesy underwater miniature to a full size mock up, that is actually pretty decent, but we never really come to fear it, like Spielberg’s carnivore, even with it’s lion-like roars and decent sized body count. The rest of the FX range from passible to awful, such as with a helicopter sequence becoming increasingly laughable as the model used during it’s crash looks exactly like the toy helicopter it is. Composers Guido & Maurizio De Angelis also give the film a very 80s Italian movie score, so at least there is that for Italian horror movie fans.

The acting isn’t much better. Except for some solid work from our leads, it’s also pretty bad, as is the ludicrous dialog, especially from Morrow’s Hamer. It’s a tribute to Vic Morrow’s professionalism that he played what looks like a definite paycheck role with such seriousness and sincerity. Franciscus is right behind him in one of his last film roles before he left acting to produce and write. The rest of the predominately Italian cast are adequate at best, terrible at worst.

Overall, The Last Shark is an amusing curiosity, but one we wish was a lot more fun than it is, even with some ‘so bad it’s good’ moments and laughable Baywatch style slow motion shots. Castellari should have taken a hint from Joe Dante’s Piranha and took the rip-off ball and ran with it, instead of trying for a serious thriller with such blatantly familiar material. For Jaws/shark flick completists and Vic Morrow fans (like me) only. Ironically, during it’s brief release in the US as Great White, it earned enough money to, probably, more than pay for it’s costs anyway, before Universal’s lawyers pulled the plug.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 rubber sharks.

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