Be careful where you step foot in the waters of Mexico, because two years after Mandy Moore and Claire Holt starred in “47 Meters Down”, the ravenous sharks are back in “47 Meters Down: Uncaged”.
Unbeknownst to their father, Mia (Sophie Nélisse) and her step-sister Sasha (Corinne Fox) embark on an impromptu scuba-diving journey with two of Sasha’s friends inside a recently discovered underwater cave. What’s special about it is that it gives way to a submerged Mayan temple that has been hidden away for centuries. In the midst of their exploration, they come across a blind shark that seems to have heightened its senses in the pitch black darkness of the Mayan cavern. When things get rumbly and their exit crumbles down in front of them, the teenagers must find a way to escape alive.
What’s interesting about Ernest Riera’s and Johannes Roberts’ screenplay is that they managed to somewhat change up the storyline, in comparison to its preceding film (which was also written by the same duo). Rather than solely be stuck in a shark cage for the entirety of the movie (which was acceptable in its own right for the original film), the writers found a different approach to involve the revered sharks, all while remaining in the clear waters of Mexico. They could have fallen in the “Open Water” trap, yet they sidestepped the easy way out appropriately. Directing his own sequel, Johannes Roberts is not a rookie to leading the set of a horror film, having also directed “The Strangers: Prey at Night” (2018) and “The Other Side of the Door” (2016). He does a more than decent job, unexpectedly startling me on one specific scene (and I don’t jump easily in horror movies). However, I must admit that some scenes are directed in a repetitive manner where the girls attempt to stay away from the shark by hiding in crevices too small for it to reach them. To compensate, if only a little, the scenery is definitely breathtaking with some impressive shots of land and sea from drone-cameras (although sometimes exaggerating the number of times they are used).
What’s interesting about “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” is the fact that the shark, although the biggest threat, isn’t the only menace to the girls’ lives. They evidently deal with depleting oxygen tanks in addition to intensely strong underwater currents that could pull them deeper down into an abyss. You’ll most likely feel claustrophobic in addition to your aquaphobia when the girls attempt to squeeze through extremely tight spaces, all while wearing a huge oxygen tank and being pursued by an endlessly hungry shark. The looming silhouettes of the Mayan statues only add an extra layer of creepiness to the submerged environment. As usual with shark-related films, Roberts succeeds in making us believe that the girls are finally safe before tearing off our safety blanket.
There are some annoying/frustrating details in the film, nonetheless. The fact that the teenagers can communicate via a microphone system within their masks without any of them having an earpiece is puzzling. However, it’s not as frustrating as the time spent underwater and accelerated breathing not having too much of an effect on the oxygen depletion over an extended period of time. While their tanks reserves seem to have reduced by about 60% after 10-15 minutes from the beginning of their Mayan tour, they seem to slow down dramatically after the first third of the film, which should be the opposite, with everything the girls are going through. There seem to be complications in regards to the ratio of oxygen being used to the time spent in some segments of the script.
All in all, for its diversity in underwater areas explored and additional subaquatic threats, “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” slightly surpasses its predecessor in terms of cinematic quality, meriting a 7/10 score.
Article written by Simon Rother