Before we even get into this review, let me make a few things clear-I am a horror fan. I am also a Mandy Moore fan, mostly thanks to Grey’s Anatomy. I also am a tried and true supporter of all things shark. So this movie, right from the get-go, had me written all over it.
The basic premise of the film involves two sisters who vacation in Mexico, and decide to be daring and go in a shark cage in the open ocean, in a How Mandy Moore Got Her Groove Back moment. I watched this one with my kids and their dad, and at the beginning there were a few “Is this a chick flick horror movie?” comments as the director lays the groundwork for the story, but the exposition at the start was relatively brief. Let me be frank-I’ve always dreamed of going in a shark cage-the idea of being close to animals I so adore, animals that are pretty much dinosaurs, makes my heart smile. That being said, when Mandy Moore’s character balked at getting into the rusty-looking cage on its far-too-delicate-for-my-tastes cable, I was right there with her. Matthew Modine was haggard and grizzled as Captain Taylor, the leader of the shark cage operation. His character in this is pretty much the opposite of his recent turn in Stranger Things as Dr. Martin Brenner, and he handles it ably.
As is apparent from the most cursory view of the trailers, things go wrong-horribly, catastrophically wrong. The sisters, Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) end up (you guessed it!) 47 meters down, in their shark cage, with a pretty limited supply of air. Yikes. Just…fucking yikes! My anxiety skyrocketed as that cage plummeted to the sea floor, and it really didn’t come back down until the very end of the movie.
The director, Johannes Roberts, did an amazing job of ratcheting up the anxiety as we watch Lisa and Kate trying to work their way out of an insanely bad set of circumstances. They (not shockingly) face numerous setbacks in their attempts to escape their underwater trap and not get eaten by 20+ foot long sharks that are wandering around.
I’m reluctant to give much away, as I feel like much of the movie’s strength is that you’re never sure what will happen next, and are thus on edge, in the best way possible. At 89 minutes, it’s not long, but some of the scenes are so uncomfortable and unsettling that it seems longer.
I highly recommend this movie-I’ll be giving it a rewatch, to see what I catch without my anxiety overruling my senses. Enjoy!