Saturday, March 16, 2024


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2020
Director: William Eubank
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Jessica Henwick, Vincent Cassel, John Gallagher Jr., T.J. Miller, Mamoudou Athie, Gunner Wright
Genre: Action, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review
William Eubank made a name for himself with the films "Love" and "The Signal", though he has also maintained a steady career as a cinematographer. "Underwater" follows the story of Norah, whom we first encounter getting ready for her day. She works at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in a research and drilling facility operated by Tian Industries. She's a mechanical engineer, and is soon fighting for her life, when what she assumes to be a strong earthquake, sends a ripple effect through the rig destroying parts of it, forcing her and her colleagues Rodrigo and Paul to make an attempted escape in rescue pods. However the pods have already been deployed and the only person left is Captain Lucien. They all manage to get to another control base, where they find Emily and Liam, who have also been unsuccessful at contacting the surface. They end up agreeing on using pressurized suits to walk one mile across the ocean floor to another one of the plaftorms, Roebuck 641, where there are additional escape pods. Rodrigo is the first to perish due to a malfunction in his helmet. Paul and Smith while investigating some escape pods uncover a creature that attacks them. While Smith kills the creature, after examining it, they all realize it belongs to an undiscovered species, one that is apparently quite aggressive. As the team sticks to their plan of walking to the platform with the rescue pods, they start getting attacked and killed, with Norah eventually finding herself in a situation where she has to make some difficult decisions for the sake of herself and her team mates. 
"Underwater" is a film that immediately brings to mind Ridley Scott's "Alien" but also, George P. Cosmatos' "Leviathan" and James Cameron's "Abyss". The last two because they take place underwater, and the first because, as most audiences know, it basically has set in motion one of the most iconic series ever captured on film, where a menacing entity destroys and nearly kills every single member of a space crew. "Underwater" has a very similar storyline, where a small team has to escape not only the aftermath of an earthquake, but also the attacks of a menacing and alien-like creature. William Eubank smartly weaves the narrative as a claustrophobic endeavor, where the peril surrounds the survivors at all times, from the pressurized water, to the alien creatures that surround them and can attack at every step. The darkness of the terrain is also leveraged to great effect since it renders the survivors almost completely blind/unaware of their surroundings, and therefore that much more vulnerable to attacks or even the terrain in which they're standing. There's definitely an aspect of a slick B-movie to "Underwater", particularly since the director (and the writers) never give these characters that much dimension, aside from succinct explanations as to why they're on the rig, and also the typification of their behaviors (the resourceful lead, the joker who doesn't last very long, the stoic captain, and the list goes on). The director is smart in not letting the narrative fall into the trappings and the shlock of "Leviathan", but also fails to explore more about these characters, making them in the process less memorable and their complicity less effective (unlike what James Cameron brought to his under-appreciated "The Abyss", where the group of characters felt part of a family). The cast tries their best to bring these characters to life, including Kristen Stewart, Jessica Henwick, Vincent Cassel and John Gallagher Jr., who are the highlights of the cast, however they're underserved by a rather undercooked script (that at times, even in the character design references, feels like a literal ripoff from "Alien"). The production team is solid, with highlights going to Bojan Bazelli's impeccable cinematography, Naaman Marshall's production design, and Dorotka Sapinska's costumes. It's a watchable, but also quickly forgettable endeavor.