(US/UK - 2019)
Directed by Johannes Roberts. Written by Johannes Roberts and Ernest Riera. Cast: Sophie Nelisse, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju, Sistine Stallone, John Corbett, Nia Long, Davi Santos, Khylin Rhambo, Brec Bassinger. (PG-13, 90 mins)
Rescued from straight-to-DVD oblivion just a week before hitting retailers in 2016 under the title IN THE DEEP and released in theaters a year later, 47 METERS DOWN proved to be a surprise summer 2017 hit for the upstart Entertainment Studios, who bought the film from a cash-strapped Dimension Films when the latter didn't see any potential in it. That was just before THE SHALLOWS ended up being a sleeper success in 2016, convincing Entertainment Studios CEO and veteran comedian Byron Allen that this cheap acquisition was a smart investment. He was right, but 47 METERS DOWN has been the only thing keeping Entertainment Studios afloat after a string of box-office duds, including the terrible German-made social media horror pickup FRIEND REQUEST, the ridiculous THE HURRICANE HEIST, and the godawful Keanu Reeves sci-fi thriller REPLICAS (HOSTILES and CHAPPAQUIDDICK got good reviews, but played to mostly empty theaters). 47 METERS DOWN was an accidental hit for the hapless Allen. Nobody needed a sequel but desperate times call for desperate measures. And for our sins, we've got 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED.
THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT can attest. A largely by-the-numbers reboot/sequel to the 2008 hit, THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is pretty forgettable except for a standout scene at a swimming pool that makes brilliant use of Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." It's an instant classic sequence that's masterfully assembled and uses sight and sound so effectively that it's almost enough to trick you into thinking the movie is better than it is. Roberts tries that same technique again here, with a long tracking shot through a narrow underwater cave that uses Roxette's "The Look" before segueing into an eerie cover of the Carpenters'"We've Only Just Begun." It's not quite as effective as Bonnie Tyler, but this seems to be Roberts' schtick (Status Quo and Aztec Camera also make needle-drop appearances). No cast members from 47 METERS DOWN return, though there is a shot of a school named "Modine International School for Girls," likely included as a wink-and-a-nod to Matthew Modine, who got a free vacation to the Dominican Republic by taking a small role in the first film.