“Underwater” stars Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr., Mamoudou Athie, and T. J. Miller. Released on January 10, 2020, the film has a group of researchers escaping their devastated subterranean laboratory.
The film is directed by William Eubank, who also directed “Love” and “The Signal”. All right, so the first weekend of the new year didn’t quite start off on the right foot in terms of movies, but there’s still plenty of room for 2020 to improve before we start looking forward towards next year. With that said, let’s take a look at some more new movies during the second weekend of 2020. This latest sci-fi horror film combines the elements of a creature feature with the elements of a claustrophobic survival thriller. When I first saw the trailer for this film, my mindset on it was about fifty-fifty. On the one hand, it has the makings of being an entertaining horror film. On the other hand, the marketing didn’t do that much to get me that excited for it. Despite that, I wound up seeing it anyway because why not? The film was completed back in 2017 and has not seen the light of day until now, so my gut was telling me that it’s not a good sign. After watching it for myself, I should’ve listened to my gut more.
The story follows a group of workers in an underwater laboratory, including mechanical engineer Norah Price (Stewart) and Captain Lucien (Cassel). They are working to drill the bottom of the Mariana Trench in order to gain more resources for the company. Their plans soon get derailed when an undersea earthquake destroys their lab, stranding them at the bottom of the ocean. They later find out that it wasn’t an earthquake that wrecked the drill station, it was a bunch of sea monsters that have a taste for human flesh. Now the crew must work together to escape this undersea hellhole before the monsters kill them off one by one. If you guys haven't noticed by now, the film is basically what happens when someone decided to remake "Alien" and have it take place at the bottom of the ocean. This one took me a while to think about before writing this review because there were plenty of things that I thought could've worked for me, but surprisingly didn't. It had the potential to be an enjoyable and frightening creature feature, but it actually turned out to be a clog in the drain that's frustrating to get rid of. The film borrowed a lot of elements from the other sci-fi horror films like "Alien", and not only did they wind up being predictable, but they’re also way too noticeable for me to ignore in the midst of its creepy shenanigans. To be fair, it got off to a pretty promising start thanks to William Eubank’s style and Kristen Stewart’s performance, but after that, it spiraled its way down towards generic and familiar territory without providing anything interesting or fun to its thrilling plot. What made it more unbearable for me was the lack of strong characterization. Even with a fine cast, the characters barely have enough depth to portray themselves as more than just victims to the deadly creatures. Like I mentioned before, Kristen Stewart did really well in her role as Norah, and I hope she continues to impress me more in the future. As for the rest of the cast, I would say that both Cassel and Jessica Henwick delivered some solid performances as Captain Lucien and Emily Haversham respectively. T. J. Miller as Paul Abel, on the other hand, well, at least he was doing something outside of his comedic zone. He was fine in his role, but his attempt at cracking some jokes kind of fell flat for me. If there’s one specific thing that I will give this film credit for, it would have to be the set designs. The sets worked wonders in creating that claustrophobic feel of being trapped at the bottom of the darkest part of the sea, whether you’re inside the laboratory or outside. The film could’ve worked well as a character-driven survival thriller if it removed the creatures from the story and added some more depth in its characters and its claustrophobic settings.
Overall, “Underwater” has promise in terms of the concept, but it surprisingly wastes that promise in favor of a derivative and forgettable trip to the dangerous part of the sea. Aside from its cast, the set designs, and its fair share of creeps, the film is formulaic as heck and it isn’t as exciting as some people are saying it was. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t that interested in seeing it or maybe it’s because I didn’t get enough rest before I started watching it. Either way, I’m not really impressed with what I’ve seen, and if you’re hoping that I would like it as much as you did, I’m sorry that I disappointed you. Hopefully the next few new movies will help turn things around.