Keep It Simple: Our Review of ‘Underwater’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - January 09, 2020
Keep It Simple: Our Review of ‘Underwater’

Sometimes it’s ok to just get to the point…

While Underwater is pretty bare bones when it comes to character development it sets off on the very effective race against time that keeps us as an audience engaged and occasionally even scared with great use of light, shadow and keeping the bad guys in the murky depths that they have us wading through.

A crew of underwater researchers must scramble to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory.

To put it simply, Underwater just GOES…it’s basically action more or less from minute one with very little muss and fuss, and as long as you go into it all expecting as much; there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that.

Director William Eubank has a solid track record in the genre realm and he doesn’t waste any time setting the mood as the film presents us with crisis from minute one.  The action is effective with solid visual effects and production design that makes us feels claustrophobic being miles underneath the surface of the earth.  Eubank follows the creature feature playbook very well and while we’ll grant that we didn’t see a lot of originality throughout, there really didn’t need to be.  With the monsters kept mostly in the shadows, this film was the epitome of genre filmmaking which is never about the reveal of the bad guy/monster but rather how you ultimately react to him.

The script from screenwriters Brian Duffield and Adam Cozad wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel or get us invested in the minutia of these characters; rather they kept it to the absolute basics.  Shit’s happening, everyone is in danger and we’ve gotta get out.  It’s a movie about the chase and as far as these kinds of movies go, it’s not lighting any worlds on fire, but god knows we’ve all seen worse.

Kirsten Stewart is actually OK here as the leader of this motley crew who are simply just trying to survive.  While she flashes the occasional moment or homage to Sigourney Weaver in the Alien; it’s not something that gets leaned on all that much and we buy her as our reluctant action hero.

Sadly the rest of the ensemble just doesn’t get alot of work in as the likes of Vincent Cassel, John Gallagher Jr and Jessica Henwick are kind of just there, but this does mark TJ Miller working his way back into the system after a myriad of sexual misconduct complaints against him in recent years.  No one is really here on this one to do any legitimate character work or general heavy lifting from an actor standpoint.  This movie is truly and simply about getting from Point A to Point B.

Ultimately, I can’t sit here with a straight face and tell you that Underwater is any kind of high brow cinema, but as a trashy creature feature that only asks you to you to turn your brain off and enjoy the ride that it’s about to take you on, it’s 95 minutes well spent and a fun reminder that sometimes less can be more.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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