Picture this: a screen so dark and foggy it’s nearly impossible to see what’s happening, background sound effects that shake the theater with their volume and make it difficult to hear dialogue and more jump scares than any movie needs to have. That’s “Underwater.”
The movie’s plot isn’t terrible; It just isn’t great. It isn’t executed as well as it could have been. On top of the rather poor visuals and effects, it’s like every single other science fiction movie in existence, which makes it feel unoriginal and like I’ve seen it before.
It’s difficult to summarize the plot because there are so many questions left unanswered. It starts underwater — hence the name — on a drilling site at the bottom of the ocean. The movie throws you right into the drilling site’s lab ‘explosion’ (if I’m being honest, I’m still not sure what exactly happened); there’s maybe two minutes of ‘pre-explosion’ before we begin following the characters’ journey to safety.
The premise is somewhat interesting, though similar to other movies with the only difference being that this film takes place at the bottom of the ocean rather than in space, as many of it’s genre companions do. However, the addition of underwater sea monsters made me roll my eyes. The movie would have been more gripping if it just followed the characters’ attempt to reach safety. The film already lacks a thread of realism (the fact that the characters were drilling into the ocean’s floor was already a little too unbelievable for me because there was no real exposition or explanation for it), and throwing in monsters made the movie even more unrealistic than it already was.
At one hour and 35 minutes, “Underwater” is one of the shortest movies that I’ve seen in awhile, but somehow it still feels too long. There were too many blurred and unfocused scenes for me to properly understand what was happening, and the unnecessarily long scenes that showed characters walking on the ocean’s floor felt monotonous and repetitive.
The film’s only real saving grace is the character of Norah (Kristen Stewart, “Twilight”). No other character is given enough focus or attention to create an emotional connection between them and the audience. Even though there are moments when it seems like Stewart is overacting or exaggerating her fear, it feels warranted given the circumstances she and her companions are in. We get very little insight into her character’s actions and motivations until the end of the film, but her decisions and actions are what lead to the ending of the movie — a conclusion which actually surprised me. I was prepared for a predictable end, but found myself pleased with its unexpected twist.
Ultimately, “Underwater” relies too heavily on jump scares and making people explode (which isn’t quite as cool as it might sound) to be effective. In the end, if you’ve seen any science fiction movie before, you’ve pretty much seen this one already.