There’s a thin line between a homage and a 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.
Despite its cliched premise, the first 15 minutes of the movie look like it has potential. Each member 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. 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 before. You’re better off streaming The Abyss and Alien.
Underwater is a deep-sea Alien rip-off with no characters to root for, unremarkable visuals, and derivative scares.