By Liam Lacey
Recipe for 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. Take a racially diverse collection of cute teenage girls and wrap in bikinis. Place in a warm Mexican resort. Add a dash of Mean Girls spice. Immerse in underwater caves diving full of Mayan ruins. When thoroughly wet, add two large great white sharks. Now hit that purée button repeatedly.
Further notes: This movie exists because there was another movie in 2017 called 47 Meters Down starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holt. Originally intended to go straight to DVD, it instead racked up more than $62 million internationally. The title of that film referred to the depth of the ocean floor in the movie. In this film, it refers to nothing except the other movie.
The student bodies here belong to an international girls’ school in Yucatan, where mopey Mia (Canadian actress Sophie Nelisse from The Book Thief) is bullied by mean girl Catherine (Brec Bassinger). Mia’s dad, Grant (John Corbett) is married to her stepmother (Nia Long). Mia’s stepsister Sasha (Corinne Foxx, daughter of Jamie Foxx) is part of the cool crowd who doesn’t stick up for Mia, even though her parents urge her to do so.
Clearly, it will take some grotesque shared ordeal to bring the sisters together. The opportunity arrives when Grant sends the girls on a glass-bottomed boat ride to watch sharks. But the stepsisters join a rebellious group of girls who want to go swimming instead.
Mia and Sasha, along with classmates Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sistine Rose Stallone, spawn of Sylvester), sneak off to a swimming hole where, by chance, a whole pile of diving equipment is sitting there for the taking on a raft. (No, a wily shark did not leave them there as bait).
Alexa remembers there’s a hidden Mayan city down there, so maybe they could just take a quick dive and check it out before working on their tans? The girls descend and so does the movie.
All this is about as visually ugly as you might expect an underwater slasher film to be: the aqua-marine murk, antique statues and cave openings collapse, fish make screaming noises, currents swirl and girl legs flail about. A couple of males show up trying to man-save the day, providing an extra course for the sharks.
The sharks are disappointingly not scary but they’re interesting-looking with their plastic torpedo heads and serrated-saw smiles. When they leap out of the dark to dismember bodies, they bloody the waters in swirling lava lamp patterns that feel almost peaceful. Or perhaps I’m just trying to find a nicer way to say dull.
47 Meters Deep: Uncaged. Directed by Johannes Roberts. Starring Sistine Rose Stallone, Brec Bassinger, John Corbett, Nia Long, Corinne Foxx, Sophie Nélisse, Brianne Tju, Davi Santos, and Khylin Rhambo. Opens wide August 16.