47 Meters Down: Uncaged does a lot of things right, and a lot of things wrong. It has no direct connection to the original, which was a delectable slice of claustrophobic underwater horror, being set instead underground in the ruins of a flooded temple.
The story is simple enough. Four girls decide that going out on a glass bottomed boat to look at sharks is lame, let’s go to this totally uncharted, off the grid location where we can go diving into this recently discovered ruin that almost nobody knows about and get eaten by sharks. But you know what? Horror movies don’t need to be great literature, they just need to have a story that gives you a reason to care when these characters inevitably get brutally murdered.
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We could comment on the relationship between main character Mia (Sophie Nélisse) and her sister-in-law Sasha (Corinne Foxx) but it honestly doesn’t really matter. Nor, ultimately, does the whole bullying subplot that kicks things off. That’s where this film stumbles. It lays down plot threads that end up not really going anywhere in particular and gives us the absolute bare minimum reason to care about these characters. There’s also some heavy-handed exposition later on that comes with a side-order of foreshadowing so large that it would require a forklift truck to carry.
Let’s put that aside though, because any film like this stands on the quality of the creature effects, and on its kills. Once again, it’s a mixed bag. The shark effects are genuinely lovely; the blind, ghostly white shark exuding palpable menace. It moves and attacks realistically and at no point does it jar you from your suspension of disbelief. Kudos for that, Uncaged, kudos. Also kudos for a couple of properly decent, pants-wetting jump scares, even if you DO reuse that one jump scare from the original but as it’s such a good scare I’ll let you get away with it.
But the kills? Mediocre. This is a shark movie with barely any teeth at all. You see next to nothing on-screen, presumably to allow them to get that PG-13 rating in the US. There are some impressively nasty wound details near the end, and a brief shot of a decapitated head, but that’s about your lot.
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That said, further praise must be given upon arriving at the end of the film. The ending is surprisingly frantic and well-executed although there’s a brief, lame attempt to tie it back into the start that doesn’t really go anywhere. Kudos to them for not doing the usual lame horror “it’s not really dead/they’ve not really escaped it” trope.
Ultimately, Uncaged is a very uneven film. For everything it does right, there’s plenty it does wrong. Is it worth purchasing? Honestly, no. Is it worth watching on your streaming service of choice? Definitely. Writing and character issues aside, it’s got some great tension and great shark effects, which is ultimately what you really want in a shark movie!
47 Meters Down: Uncaged is out now on DVD and Digital.