For this writer, it’s been really fun to see the evolution of filmmaker Johannes Roberts’ career over the last seven years, from Storage 24 (the first movie of his I ever covered that showed great promise of a director who embraced what makes the genre so great) to The Other Side of the Door (which really took me by surprise) to the breakout hit of 2017, 47 Meters Down, to last year’s The Strangers: Prey at Night (which I completely LOVED). And now we have his latest, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, which has Roberts heading back into shark-infested waters for the sequel, which pits a group of unsuspecting teens against the ocean’s greatest predators, resulting in yet another harrowing excursion in aquatic horror that’s also a fun summertime popcorn movie to boot.
The setup for Uncaged is pretty straightforward: at the beginning, we’re introduced to step-sisters Mia (Sophie Nélisse) and Sasha (Corinne Foxx), who don’t exactly get along, with Mia being a bit more reserved and Sasha sporting a bit more attitude towards the “inconvenience” of having to deal with an awkward new sibling. Their parents, Jennifer (Nia Long) and Grant (John Corbett) think the girls need a chance to bond, so they decide to have them take a boat tour together. Sasha’s friends Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sistine Stallone) have different plans in mind: whisking the step-sisters away to a remote area where they can chill, go swimming, and explore a subaqueous cave system that houses ancient Mayan ruins.
But what starts out as an idyllic hangout session quickly transforms into an underwater nightmare, as the teens find themselves trapped inside the caves, with sneaky, bloodthirsty sharks on the prowl and their air supplies quickly depleting as they contend with figuring out just how on earth they’re going to survive.
While there are some rough edges to its script, by and large, I had a blast with 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, as Roberts finds new ways to make any sort of trip underwater fraught with tension and danger at every turn. What I enjoyed about the first 47 Meters Down was how Roberts made the vast nothingness of the ocean utterly terrifying, where the all-consuming blackness of the depths heightened the paranoia and fear that the film’s characters were feeling as they battled against the odds (and a few hungry sharks lurking in the murkiness of the open seas). With Uncaged, Roberts smartly goes in a much different direction, utilizing the sequel’s very specific locale (submerged Mayan ruins) as a means to incite feelings of claustrophobia and disorientation, resulting in an experience that’s akin to if The Descent took place underwater.
Cinematographer Mark Silk (who specializes in underwater camerawork) does an incredible job of immersing viewers in the perilous cave diving exploits of Mia, Sasha, and their cohorts, who are completely outmatched by the hungry sharks who have found their way into the hidden cave system, popping in and out of the darkness unexpectedly to claim their victims (there is one appearance in particular that really made me jump, which is no easy feat).
My only real issue with Uncaged was the film’s finale. Without going into spoilers at all, what I will say about it is that initially it starts off with a bit of a wicked twist to it, but then it becomes a bit of a “jumping the shark” moment (pun totally intended here), with some silliness to it that didn’t completely undermine all that preceded it, but did leave me raising my eyebrows quite a bit. That being said, I’d still recommend 47 Meters Down: Uncaged to anyone out there looking to scratch their sharksploitation itch before summer’s gone for good, as there are tons of thrills and chills awaiting viewers in these hazard-filled waters.
Movie Score: 3.5/5