Underwater nails tension and dread, giving us an entertaining Aliens-at the-bottom-of-the-sea movie to start the year.
Score: 3.5 / 5
Hello 2020 Movies! Underwater, you win the prize of being the first 2020 released movie I have seen to start this decade. Going into this movie I thought I would get a Alien style movie that trades space for being at the bottom of ocean. And look at that, Underwater is exactly that flavor of movie.
Now me, I like these type of movies tense space horror movies. The ones with a crew that is so screwed and one lead character that will not give up even if the end is staring them in their face with lots of teeth. So take that as you will. That said I really liked this movie. It kind of felt like Alien meets Deadspace (video game series, look it up!) in water. That’s a win in my book.
The general premise is that in the near-ish future, there is a company that drills at super deep levels into the seafloor, and at this one site miles and miles under super pressurized water, the massive building sized drill malfunctions and caused significant damage to the long tower like structure that the many workers of the drill operate in. To make matters worse the hull damage is giving way to the immense pressure of the ocean which means anyone that couldn’t take an escape pod to the surface is screwed. Oh and then there are these weird alien like sounds that can be heard out in the pitch black water. Suffice to say the crew of survivors that we follow have a good idea they are likely screwed. Yet, they have a plan. Using oceanfloor level surface tunnels and badass looking underwater space suits (they look a lot like StarCraft marines for the video game fans out there) they will travel to a decommissioned drill that may still have means of communication or escape to the surface.
What I liked about this movie was the tense cinematography, great visuals, fun sea space world, and Kristen Stewart doing what she does best, carrying the weight of simple premise movies with her on screen presence. The shooting style was great, sometimes capturing the mood of games (or 1917) with an almost over the shoulder view of being part of the crew. You feel claustrophobic, you feel disoriented, you feel the hopelessness of the nightmare the crew finds themselves in. It’s something that I can’t stress enough, is best seen on large screens with booming sound.
The world they created for this movie feels like it’s right at home with the aforementioned Aliens and Deadpsace’s. It’s grimy, the technology feels both old and new, and there is not a single place where you feel that the characters are safe. For just like in space, if you go outside of the station, you better have a suit on or you are gonna be jelly. They don’t shy away from just how dangerous it is on themselves without including monsters. Which when you get to the monster parts of the movie, wow are those things disturbing. It’s also with those creatures and how the crew finds ways to fight back that remind me a lot of Deadspace games, which don’t involve you being some marine with guns. In both instances these are drillers / mechanics, they have things meant to be used as tools, they just happen to be so dangerous they could be used as weapons. I loved that stuff.
So with all the said this isn’t some super deep awards bait script of a movie. It’s more leaning on the entertaining side. Which is why having an actress like Kristen Stewart helps. She’s a great lead, and gives the movie emotion. She also isn’t the dumbest pile of bricks, which a lot of these movies tend to do. When she puts herself in harms way it’s because of something that might actually help her or the others escape. That said this isn’t a character piece where by the end you have gained some great profound message. This movie is about the tension and spooks. It has a lot of that and does the job well.