47 Meters Down Uncaged: Superior Sequel Takes a Bite Out of Summer

What’s summer without a good killer shark movie? Last year’s The Meg was fine but largely forgettable. Crawl already gave us killer alligators last month. Two summers ago, shark thriller 47 Meters Down surprised at the box office. Though it was a modest box office hit, 47 Meters Downs was a somewhat lacklustre movie with too little shark action. But it made money, so a sequel was all but guaranteed. Now director Johannes Roberts (The Strangers: Prey at Night) is back behind the camera for 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. Critics haven’t been that impressed with the sequel. But Tomatometer scores have been wrong in the past.

Synopsis

Four teenage girls drive to a remote location for an afternoon swim. But when they decide to explore an underwater Mayan burial site, the girls quickly find themselves trapped with depleting oxygen levels. Their only option is to find way out on the other side. Standing between them and their freedom are hungry albino great white sharks. Lost in dark waters and running out of air, the girls have no choice but to brave the sharks to get back to the surface.

47 Meters Down Uncaged Tense and Tightly Paced

In spite of a premise promising claustrophobic, tense thrills, 47 Meters Down didn’t have much bite. Pacing problems and a lack of shark action left too many dull gaps. Fortunately, Roberts has things figure out in the sequel. At just under 90 minutes, 47 Meters Down Uncaged is a tense and tightly paced roller-coaster ride. With Roberts and screenwriting partner Ernest Rivera literally ‘uncaging’ the action this time around, Uncaged has more opportunity to deliver jumps and scares. And it does this quite well, aptly balancing suspense and jump scares.

Once the first shark makes its appearance, Uncaged becomes a surprisingly tense affair.

Of course, there’s some generic table-setting and character introductions. Moreover, Uncaged isn’t going to win any prizes for thought-provoking subtext. This is pure popcorn entertainment. But Roberts knows what people came to see, and little time is wasted getting the young ladies trapped in the underwater Mayan ruins. Once the first shark makes its appearance, Uncaged becomes a surprisingly tense affair. In its final 15 minutes, it’s a relentless affair that will have most viewers white-knuckling their seats. Yes, the movie becomes increasingly improbable as it throws more curveballs to its characters. Still it’s hard not to find Uncaged’s final twist both darkly humourous and absolutely thrilling.

Albino Sharks Impressively Terrifying

Killer shark movies are only as good as their sharks. In this department, 47 Meters Down Uncaged impresses with its albino sharks. Horror fans may initially be worried – some of the early camera work is a bit jerky. But Roberts quickly smooths out that problem, finding multiple ways to make his sharks malevolent. Not unlike Michael Myers emerging from shadows, Roberts’ albino sharks creep out from murky waters in several well-shot scenes. In particular, one moment with the massive shark swimming just inches above the girls in a tight corridor is impressively terrifying. The sharks jump out and snap with Roberts even cleverly riffing on Deep Blue Sea’s best death scene. Overall, the shark effects are impressive, rarely taking you out of the action.

Decent Cast Inject Likability Into Generic Characters

Aside from veteran character actor John Corbett, 47 Meters Down Uncaged features a cast of young, unknown performers. Let’s face it, no one is going to this kind of movie for the acting or character arcs. Not surprisingly then, all of the characters are two-dimensional tropes found in dozens of thrillers. Will the distant stepsisters reconcile and come together to survive? Spoiler alert – you probably already know the answer. Yet in spite of the movie’s rote characters, all the actresses draw you in with their performances. Ultimately, you’ll care enough about them to heighten the suspense regardless of whether you know who’s going to die first.

47 Meters Down Uncaged Exceeds Expectations

Don’t always trust Rotten Tomatoes. Currently, 47 Meters Down Uncaged sits with a 50% Tomatometer score. This is one occasion where the critics have got it wrong. Certainly, Uncaged isn’t heavyweight horror like Midsommar or Us. Nevertheless, Uncaged taps into the same summer horror fun that Crawl did earlier and The Shallows did a few years ago. Anyone looking for 90 minutes of fun jumps and watching through partially covered eyes will enjoy 47 Meters Down Uncaged.

THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: A-

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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