Main cast: Kristen Stewart (Norah Price), Vincent Cassel (Captain Lucien), TJ Miller (Paul Abel), Jessica Henwick (Emily Haversham), John Gallagher Jr (Liam Smith), Mamoudou Athie (Rodrigo Nagenda), and Gunner Wright (Lee Miller)
Director: William Eubank
Underwater was kept in the proverbial drawer for about two years, or so I hear, and it is released only because Disney, after acquiring 20th Century Fox, wants to be rid of the things collecting cobweb in the studio basement as much as possible. Well, if we want to be optimistic, maybe it is released after Kristen Stewart somehow winning that actress of the decade thing or her astoundingly brilliant headlining of that super blockbuster Charlie’s Angels… okay, we’ll go with the first one.
This one sees her playing a role that is perfect for her to do her usual dour, sighing shtick. Norah Price, through languid flashbacks of dreary despair, lets everyone in the audience know that she has lost someone close to her heart, so now she is dead in her heart, et cetera. She is a mechanical engineer in the Kepler 822 Station, one of the drilling stations at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The Tian Company, is the Chinese version of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, and you know they are up to no good. What are they drilling? What do they want? Well, there won’t be any good answers here, hmm.
At any rate, the movie quickly gets to the point: an earthquakes damages the station irreparably, causing our heroine and a handful of survivors to be stranded – the escape pods were all good, oops – and had no option other than to make the dangerous walk to the next drilling station. Of course, it’s never a cake walk when you are walking in near complete darkness in the depths of the world’s deepest undersea trench, and a giant big megalodon… oops, wrong movie. What we get instead is more of The Abyss or any similar undersea flick blessed with a touch of Lovecraftian horror.
Now, there are some good things here, especially for a flick from a studio that seems to have resigned to it being a dud. The set pieces, the claustrophobic atmosphere, the cinematography, and Kristen Stewart’s acting – these are all actually pretty good. Okay, the suits they are wearing have that Buzz Lightyear-gone-Gears of War thing going on, but they still look adorable, heh.
Unfortunately, after the gripping first third or so, things soon devolve in a standard horror-survival flick with twists and turns that can be seen coming from a mile away. Worse, TJ Miller’s Paul Abel is allowed to make all these forced, unfunny quips that ruin all potentially dramatic scenes he’s in, thus ruining any immersion. Heaven forbid I start to feel anything for these characters – here, have an ill-timed quip instead!
On the whole, Underwater never manages to be as good as it could have been, but at the same time, it’s never as bad as it could be, too. It’s as if the people behind this time were struggling between wanting to deliver another formulaic jump-scare-in-the-dark movie and making an undersea date with Cthulhu, and this indecisiveness persisted all the way to the very end. As a result, this is a movie that still can deliver some measure of thrills and scares, but it’s probably better to stream it than to buy cinema tickets to watch it.