47 Meters Down: Uncaged
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Run time: 90 minutes
The Lowdown: A funny thing happened to me while watching the sequel everybody expected, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, but probably precious few would actually admit they wanted.
I realized that, at least for its first 44 minutes, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is actually not terrible.
Honestly, it’s surprisingly better than the first despite not having the star power of Mandy Moore and Claire Holt. Returning director/co-writer Johannes Roberts gooses his sequel with a pretty cool setting, a sunken lost city that’s never been explored until now.
The characters are total stereotypes. There’s the daughter of the guy doing the exploring on behalf of the local government. Her stepsister, and of course, they don’t get along. And two disposable best friends.
The first underwater shark attack is pretty bonkers, and it’s followed by a much better, legitimate scare behind a metal grate.
There’s a rash of death sequences including a "Holy Shit" callback to Sam Jackson’s Deep Blue Sea moment, and suddenly the main character, the girl no one was nice to, is all alone, her entire family dead, and suddenly the crushing weight of these types of horror movies hits you square in the feels.
47 Meters Down and its ilk are like underwater torture porn, and for what purpose? To entertain by making you realize the absolute worst way to die so that that’s all you will ever think about if you get on a boat or go for an ocean swim at any point ever again in your life?
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Roberts offers hope in the form of a logistically improbable strategy to follow the ocean currents, which may lead the final girl out of the sunken city’s network of caverns and back to the surface.
And, of course, the currents are like a swirling black hole of doom. And, of course, a character believed dead is not so dead and joins the quest for survival.
And the improbable, impossible plan actually works but it only lands the two ladies in an even worse situation, which by that point you can’t help but scream, ‘What the fuck, man!’ at your television screen, and then there’s not one, but two final shark attacks, each more ridiculous than the first, and by the time the credits roll, you sit back, exhausted and pissed off and wonder what the ever loving fuck did 47 Meters Down: Uncaged devolve into, and you make a pledge that if you ever, ever, ever watch another underwater shark attack movie you will turn it off at the first sequence that defies logic or does something stupid, because these films just aren’t worth the emotional tumult associated with watching them.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Sure.
Nudity – No.
Gore – Minimal.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Blind sharks. No, seriously.
Buy/Rent – Neither.
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Now on Video-on-Demand:
The Fare (Epic Pictures/Dread, 82 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): The Fare is that high-concept sci-fi love story mystery that my inner 21-year-old-self would have loved way back in 1991, regardless if it made sense.
The black and white film centers on Harris, a cab driver, tearing down a desolate road to pick up a fare, a woman named Penny, just like the coin, who for no stated reason is stranded in the middle of the desert.
Harris’ radio toggles from talk-radio chatter about time-traveling aliens to the negative side effects of toxic masculinity.
He picks up Penny. They talk. She teaches strippers how to take their clothes off without looking goofy. The sky rumbles with thunder, everything goes dark, the cab stop running and Penny is gone.
Then, The Fare reboots, right back to Harris tearing ass down the road to pick up his fare. Only, there are slight variations. Snippets of conversation that are different. This time, they touch, and for a brief instant, the film magically transforms from black and white to color. Penny pleads, do you remember me? Remember me this time, Harris!
Poof. She disappears again.
The Fare is like a romantic Source Code without the taunt action sequences. It’s completely contained inside Harris’ cab. And it tries mightily to overcome its reboot gimmick to consistently deliver more hints and clues with each iteration of Harris and Penny’s cab ride to draw viewers closer to the truth of what’s happening.
Like I said, it’s possible my younger, more idealistic self would have championed The Fare and sung its praises, but older, less idealistic me wanted a bit more pacing, a lot more hinting and a better focused narrative to help me understand why I should care about these two people at that exact moment.
The Fare aims high and is ambitious as hell, but it’s not the genre breakout that I wanted and hoped it would be.