Movie Reviews

Underwater Review: A Wasted Lovecraftian Tale

Underwater Review: A Wasted Lovecraftian Tale
Underwater is a deep-sea Alien rip-off with no characters to root for, unremarkable visuals, and derivative scares.

There’s a thin line between a homage and copycat. The difference is being able to spin an old tale into a familiar yet interesting new story. The people behind this movie can’t.

Underwater is your typical sci-fi flavored survivor movie. A group of scientists is working in a multi-million dollar research facility funded by a corporation. An earthquake hits and ocean pressure crumples metal like paper, devastating the subterranean lab at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The survivors must find a way to the surface and along the way, discovers that they’re weren’t hit by an earthquake but an otherworldly force of nature that they now must escape.

This isn’t bad even though it sounds very familiar. The first 15 minutes of the movie looks like it has potential. Each of the cast has notable work under their belt. Underwater clearly knows what it is and doesn’t waste time setting things in motion. And then a familiar entity gets slapped on a backlit table and you realize why this was released in January – Underwater is an Alien rip-off.

It does have a Lovecraft-inspired big bad but the script settles for an unimaginative mystery, all hinged upon a corporation who wants stuff outlined in the opening credits. The underwater scares are a variety of typical genre tricks – tight places, things that go bump outside, dark shadows in your periphery, curious minions, and faulty equipment. They’re all executed in forgettable ways or rip-off The Descent. There aren’t any memorable set pieces and the movie fails to capitalize on the atmosphere and tension of walking at the bottom of the ocean.

It doesn’t help that stock characters spend most of their time standing around and delivering exposition, then lumbering from point A to point B. Kristen Stewart does her best even as a Ripley wannabe in a sports bra. Unfortunately no matter how distraught she looks, the only thing believable about her and the rest of the cast is how difficult it is to move in a 100 lbs. scuba suit. When the body count starts, none of them make an impact.

And the monsters? They aren’t much. The Big Bad is called a “Behemoth” that just thrashes around while its frog-inspired “Clingers” attach to it when they’re not swallowing things whole. The movie ends with a cheesy inspirational line.

As soon as the credits roll Underwater fades from memory without even a memeable moment to remember it by. Underwater could have been an Alien meets Lovecraft horror story, but the script doesn’t have the ingenuity to pull it off. Instead, you’re inundated with imitation that the movie doesn’t distinguish itself from other deep-sea tales that have done it. You’re better off streaming The Abyss and Alien. 

Underwater

4

Underwater is a deep-sea Alien rip-off with no characters to root for, unremarkable visuals, and derivative scares.

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