If you need some escapism our ESP film critic Gavin Miller is bringing you his reviews from the small screen for the time being and checking out what’s streaming at home…
Deep sea monster movies have always been ‘hit and miss’ affairs due to multiple reasons – and this Kristen Stewart headlining feature is no different.
For the most part it snags the claustrophobic feel of being stuck seven miles under the ocean spot on – but half the time you don’t know what’s going on due to the murkiness that brings.
And what you end up with is a modern version of Sphere – a quarter of a century later.
The Abyss sadly this isn’t.
It doesn’t outstay its welcome too long though, by throwing you straight into the drama as this action/sci-fi/horror forgoes the usual set-up of meeting the crew etc – by leaving you with only a handful of survivors and the majority already deceased.
This comes as the movie starts with a mysterious earthquake devastating a subterranean deepwater research and drilling facility – which houses dozens of oceanic scientists – at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.
Headlining is Stewart’s (The Twilight Saga and recent Charlie’s Angels reboot) mechanical engineer Norah Price as one of the survivors trying to work out what caused the catastrophe, alongside the likes of Vincent Cassell’s (Ocean’s Twelve) captain Lucien and TJ Miller’s (Deadpool) drill worker Paul Abel – who provides the movie with some much-needed ‘comic relief’ despite not always hitting the spot.
But when the survivors re-group and realise they’re going to have to walk miles across the ocean floor to reach the escape pod station with their facility crumbling around them, it soon becomes clear that the darkness of the water and depressurisation sickness will be the least of their worries – when they stumble across a new species.
And to make matters worse, the small ancient creatures they discover are sadly the miniature spawn of a titanic monster called the Cthulhu – which is probably about the size of the shark recently seen in The Meg.
Which would have been even more terrifying if you could actually work out what was going on the majority of the time – and what they were ‘actually saying’ among their heavy breathing.
But while the sometimes messy editing among the ‘doom and gloom’ works against the movie – as the crew battle for their lives – it also on the other hand turns out to be one of the most advantageous aspects of the film, by making Underwater (for the most part) a viscerally noteworthy creature feature.
And there’s a couple of nice death scenes too.
It won’t linger in the memory for too long, but for a quickfire ninety minutes of action – which offers something a little different – this paddles above water more than it drowns.
Even if it does intermittently need armbands to help it swim.
ESP Rating: 3/5
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassell, TJ Miller, John Gallagher Jr, Jessica Henwick, Gunner Wright & Mamoudou Athie
Running Time: 1 Hr 35 Mins
Director: William Eubank