A sequel to the summer 2017 sleeper hit (though unrelated in pretty much every way other than the fact that it is an aquatic creature feature) 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is a new thriller promising even more sea-based carnage. A vast improvement over its predecessor, this is a surprisingly satisfying and shockingly well-crafted B-movie on a greater scale.
The first film’s plot boils down to people being trapped underwater getting hunted by sharks. Although that is again the basic set-up for the sequel, this movie has a few more layers. Rather than a single objective — survival — the characters in Uncaged have multiple smaller objectives they must achieve before getting to safety. As such, the film feels much more exciting. Instead of watching two characters stagnant in a single location, there is more physical progression to follow.
This sequel is also far more suspenseful than the last movie. Because so many things happen over such a short period of time, you will undoubtedly be on the edge of your seat for the entirety of the film’s length. However, the movie manages to keep this pace consistently, never losing any steam, yet never feeling like it is overly rushed either. Even though the story is a tad predictable at times, you are kept on your toes by the excellent pacing.
Also a surprise is that the character development is actually somewhat strong. Movies like this can sometimes struggle to create a connection between the audience and the characters, and although the characters may not have the most depth or nuance, they are thoroughly likable. The friendship between the characters goes a long way in making you want them to live through the events of the film, even though you know that some of them are doomed.
The cast is comprised mostly of young up-and-coming actresses, and although their performances aren’t particularly complex, they give turns that are charming enough to drive the movie. Corinne Foxx and Sophie Nélisse play step-sisters, and the chemistry they have together is very convincing. John Corbett plays their father in a way that is fun to watch. Brianne Tju and Sistine Rose Stallone also give solid supporting turns, although they aren’t super memorable.
However, perhaps the most impressive part of this film is the production design. Since the movie is set in ancient underwater caves, the filmmakers had to build underwater sets to capture this look, and they look great. It is obvious that there is a bit more money behind this sequel, as the original was meant for a DVD release and was scooped up last minute for a theatrical run. This was made with the express purpose of being shown on the big screen, and as a result, it feels much more cinematic.
The CGI and cinematography are quite strong too. The sharks are shot in a way that gives the audience just enough to get scared. While there are a handful of cheap jump scares, most of the film’s scares are earned (and there are three or four that are legitimately startling). If you get wrapped up in the movie and its world, it is easy to feel like the sharks are real in the moment.
Will a shark film ever live up to the masterpiece that is Jaws? Absolutely not. However, movies like 47 Meters Down: Uncaged prove that there is still life in the genre yet. Between this and Crawl, 2019 may be the renaissance of the creature feature.
47 Meters Down: Uncaged hit theaters on August 16.