47 Meters Down: Uncaged (M)
Success has many parents. It also has many children, and this is the first of probably a dozen spin-offs spawned by Johannes Roberts' unexpected 2017 minor hit film 47 Meters Down.
In that film, Mandy Moore and Claire Holt find themselves trapped in shark-infested waters off the Mexican coast and dwindling air tanks. Writer-director Roberts is given a second pay cheque and he spends it on a much bigger concept - this time four girls find themselves trapped in shark-infested waters off the Mexican coast. Four! Such invention.
Mia (Sophie Nelisse) isn't setting in well to her International school that dad (John Corbett) has moved her to while he discovers sunken Mayan ruins off Yucatan. Also not settling in is any sense of sibling feeling for new step-sister Sasha (Corinne Foxx). Dad forces the two to undertake a bonding glass-bottom boat day trip, but the girls ditch this to tag along with trouble-making friends Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sistine Stallone).
This feels like a collective of Hollywood kids who got a lucky break on Bring Your Daughter to Work Day.
The bad-influence friends have been hanging around with the staff of John Corbett's archaeologist, and so their plans are to pinch some scuba equipment and go explore the underwater Mayan ruins for themselves. Cue a few poorly made diving decisions and the girls find themselves stuck in an underwater city with no visible means of escape and a blind, hungry Great White on their trail.
I don't usually blink at psychopaths in hockey masks, and dream-disrupting crispy-burned knife-fingered fedora-wearing killers leave me yawning, but thanks to John Williams and a particularly traumatic day at Nippers, I think a slow-moving shark is the ultimate on-screen scaremonger. Here, the sharks are particularly slow-moving, and those obvious signposted-a-mile-away scares got me every time. As impressive as the scares is the underwater set, constructed not in the Dominican Republic location of the film's exterior scenes, but in the chilly British countryside of Pinewood Studio's underwater facility.
Not too impressive is the middling work put into the screenplay which puts in barely any effort to get the girls to the danger. There are four full sets of scuba gear sitting on a pontoon and the girls don't even notice them sitting next to them until they do.
The four leads are fine. This feels like a collective of Hollywood kids who got a lucky break on Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. Corinne is Jamie Foxx's daughter. Sistine is one of those Stallones. A pity they all weren't given something better to work with. But they scream well, something that sounds impressive in the film's sound design.
This film has nothing in common with the Mandy Moore film from which it springs. Nor with common sense. But it delivers some sweet scares. And yep, that American spelling is correct. I can't imagine the distributors saw there was endless cash in this film so they might bother getting the poster and trailer retype-set with the correct British spelling.