Written by J. Weagle
On paper I should adore Underwater, the new film from William Eubank who is probably best known for 2014’s The Signal. On paper Underwater sounds like it might be some sort of new take on a series like Alien, or perhaps similar to James Cameron’s The Abyss, hell even the big reveal near the end of the film should be enough to satisfy my H.P Lovecraft loving heart. Sadly however, Underwater falls flat on its face and becomes nothing more than your run of the mill popcorn horror flick without any of the scares.
The film follows a small crew of oceanic researchers working for a deep sea drilling company who after a large scale earthquake are stranding in the deepest waters of the Mariana Trench. This crew lead by Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel) must navigate their way to the largest base while coming to the realization that perhaps the earthquake has awoken something more horrifying then they could ever imagine. If that sounds familiar, than I think you can put the puzzle pieces in place and without spoiling too much I can say that yes, Underwater wears its Lovecraftian inspiration on its sleeve.
It’s not that the acting in Underwater is bad, because it isn’t. The rather big large named cast lead by Kristen Stewart (Twilight Saga) does the job perfectly fine, it’s the script that feels a bit too cliche. Vincent Cassel plays the part of the heroic leader, and TJ Miller (Deadpool) once again plays TJ Miller. Again, it’s not to say any of it is bad, it’s just a shame that no bigger risks were taken here and instead it feels like everyone did just enough to get by. It doesn’t help that the film is only ninety minutes with barely any time to pause for character development outside of a few hints of Norah’s past.
Another gripe some may have with this film is that it is dark. Like really dark. I personally didn’t mind it, and I think that Eubank actually did some neat things here, using the blackness of the bottom of the ocean to add a hint of tension. The main issue is that even when an attempt at a jump scare is created it completely misses its mark, mainly because the scares can be seen building from a mile away. The blandness and predictability of Underwater carries into every aspect, from the effects, script, acting, and even the directing.
Underwater had potential, and if done correctly it is a cosmic horror lovers wet dream, or at worst a decent popcorn creature feature. Instead the film only leaves a dissatisfied taste in your mouth while you fantasize of what could have been in the right hands. I can’t help but think that Eubank played it a bit too safe with this one, wanting to create his version of Alien when instead he could have at least attempted to make something original instead. Someone once said the only thing worse then a bad movie is a boring movie, and that sentence just about sums up Underwater perfectly.