Mandy Moore is definitely having herself a bit of a comeback. While she initially made a name for herself as a rising pop star during the TRL days with hit songs like “Candy” and “I Wanna Be With You,” she quickly ventured into acting. Her most popular film role is arguably the Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation of A Walk to Remember, but she allowed herself to take some risks. Her music career softened as she went for a less mainstream sound over the years, but she was always present. One of biggest successes was actually as a voice actress playing Rapunzel in the hugely popular Tangled, which gave her the opportunity to perform at the Academy Awards. Then in 2016, word got out that she was starring in a shark thriller called In The Deep that was going straight to DVD and VOD. Yes, I was one of the pretentious readers who rolled their eyes when it was announced. I’m not one who gets too excited for aqua thrillers (though I loved the Piranha remake), but am always interested to see a pop star act in a genre film. Fortunately, the movie was pulled from shelves early on and given a summer theatrical release, not long after the first season of TV’s biggest series finished airing, “This Is Us” (also starring Moore). Under the new title 47 METERS DOWN, the film became the biggest financial success of any indie film this year so far.
Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are sisters on vacation in Mexico. While Kate is the more adventurous sister, Lisa just had her heart broken as her boyfriend viewed her to be a bit boring. During a night out, the girls meet a pair of locals who invited them to cage dive. While this comes off as a shady shore excursion, this only adds some excitement to an otherwise vanilla getaway. Lisa clearly is uncomfortable with the whole idea, but views this an opportunity to prove her ex (or maybe herself) wrong. They get into the cage, which starts off peaceful until the cage breaks off the boat and they are sent plunging to the sea floor. They lose communication with the locals. This sets off a series of anxiety inducing scenarios where the sisters have to figure out a way to survive and make their way above water before they run out of air or getting eaten by the giant sharks that are circling around them.
Obviously, the comparisons start spitting out of everyone’s mouth since apparently every shark movie is the same. It didn’t help that this came out not too long after the Blake Lively thriller The Shallows. I guarantee you though that, aside from sharks being involved, these two movies couldn’t be any more different. Don’t get me wrong: I thoroughly enjoyed The Shallows, but that was nowhere as terrifying 47 METERS DOWN. Also, the only movie that really came to mind was Adam Green’s Frozen, where three friends are stuck in a ski lift midair over a holiday weekend. Both movies emphasize the relationships between the characters, helping design an atmosphere where the audience really wants them to survive. We root for them and yell at the screen when we know something is wrong. Moore and Holt have a believable onscreen dynamic that raises the stakes in every situation they find themselves in. While they keep making incredibly dangerous choices, we know these choices are made based on their survival skills. It’s scary to think one can simply sit to die from lack of oxygen or head out into the open way where a greater danger awaits.
My friend asked me before watching 47 METERS DOWN if I ever had cage dived to which I answered no, but that I would love to try it sometime. He then told me that I wouldn’t feel the same after watching this. He was right.