Shark movie sequel sinks

Four women go cave diving in a Mayan archaeological site in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.
Four women go cave diving in a Mayan archaeological site in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

REVIEW / SURVIVAL HORROR

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED (PG13)

90 minutes/opens today/ 2 stars

The story: Four young Americans from a girls' school in Mexico decided to go cave diving in a Mayan archaeological site, against the wishes of their guardians. In the drowned ruins, they find the wonders of an ancient civilisation, but to their horror, also discover that they are not the only living things there. This is a sequel to the 2017 sleeper hit, 47 Meters Down.

The first movie was a low-budget flick that was rescued from the straight-to-DVD bin and sent into cinemas, where it earned millions. It was a decent movie, with a lean and lively puzzle-piece script that did not have to resort to relying on sharks with ridiculous super abilities to generate real scares,

As is standard practice, the sequel packs in more, but that extra weight is like an overloaded diver's belt pulling the enterprise down into the depths.

There are now four, instead of two, women in danger. Instead of a cage, there is a maze-like web of claustrophobia-inducing tunnels. The monster at the end of the tunnel remains a shark, but to give the women a fighting chance, this beast comes with certain limitations, which the story exploits with some flair.

Like the cave divers, director Johannes Roberts, who also helmed the first movie, quickly loses his way. An attempt to replicate the sister-to-sister dynamic found in the first movie falls prey to rushed character development, leading to sudden and convenient flip-flops in behaviour.

Mia (Sophie Nelisse) and Sasha (Corinne Foxx) are blended-family siblings who at the start of the film argue constantly, so it becomes obvious where their character arcs will be in the finale.

They are joined by two "bad" girls, Nicole (Sistine Rose Stallone) and Alexa (Brianne Tju). Any girl named Alexa in a B-movie can be expected to be rich and mean, which is precisely what she is. She and Nicole are so comically over-the-top girls-school nasty that their characters should probably have expiration dates printed on them.

Mia is the level-headed blonde with "natural" make-up who urges caution whenever the rest of the group want to go wild. "Cave diving is dangerous!" she warns the team, to no avail.

Well, duh. No prizes for guessing where she will be at the end of the movie.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2019, with the headline 'Shark movie sequel sinks'. Print Edition | Subscribe