‘Underwater’ Is A Good Old Fashioned Monster Movie

‘Underwater’ came to our cinema screens at the start of the year, and this William Eubank directed movie follows a group of scientists who travel seven miles to the bottom of the ocean and encounter some particularly nasty underwater creatures.

The movie was supposedly inspired by the fictional Cthulhu monster that was conjured up by the horror author H.P Lovecraft in 1928. But the concept has been given a 21st-century makeover and features an all-star cast with the likes of Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel and Jessica Henwick playing the underwater scientists in peril.

Such monster movies are nothing new, of course. From the relentlessly murdering extra-terrestrials of Ridley Scott’s Alien to misunderstood giant apes in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, there’s plenty of mileage in coming up with these fearsome creatures.

Underwater monsters have also had a pretty good run at the box office. James Cameron’s The Abyss, George Cosmatos’ Leviathan, and even Boon Jong-ho’s The Host all warned us to stay away from the water.

Such themes have also been a hit in the gaming world. Subnautica was a 2014 PC and Xbox game that explored monsters on entire ocean planets, and both BioShock and Ecco the Dolphin have proven to be popular aquatic video games among gamers.

Ocean themes have also proven to be popular in the iGaming industry, as many online casinos featured at sites like casinodeal.co.uk offer plenty of undersea-themed slot games like Atlantis that take players far beneath the ocean’s waves to explore a fabled lost city.

Most of these titles offer gamers a way to find their fortune at the bottom of the sea. But in the Underwater movie, the team of scientists are working at a drilling facility deep in the Marianas Trench when a strong earthquake suddenly strikes them.

That leads the researchers to have to try and get out of the damaged facility by walking across the ocean floor to one of the escape pods. This being a Hollywood movie means that things don’t go according to plan. Upon seeing a corpse by a distress beacon, the team are set upon by a creature of a previously undiscovered species.

What follows is one-and-a-half hour’s worth of very familiar monster movie motifs as the scientists are gradually picked off by the fearsome and mysterious humanoid underwater creatures.

While this might run the risk of being overly cliched, Kristen Stewart puts in a typically strong performance as Norah Price, the engineer of the drilling facility. Stewart has had an impressive run of movies since emerging from the Twilight series. From arthouse oddities like JT Leroy to earnest and worthy dramas such as Certain Women, the actor has shown that she is nothing if not versatile.

So we get to see Stewart running from a series of underwater beasties in a somewhat unfortunate bleach-blonde buzzcut. Joining her are the always reliable Vincent Cassel as the facility’s captain and comedian TJ Miller as a crewmate who suffers a particularly nasty fate despite his constant stream of wisecracks.

The film suffered from some somewhat mixed reviews with the Variety verdict being especially damning. Much of this was due to the derivative nature of the storyline which admittedly hasn’t stretched the boundaries of the monster movie genre.

However, Underwater isn’t all bad. The ensemble cast manages to provide the perfect amount of claustrophobic tension, while Bojan Bazelli’s cinematography serves up some sumptuous underwater vistas. Special mention must be made to Marco Beltrami’s score that perfectly adds to the on-screen horror.

Above all, this is 90 minutes worth of enjoyable if slightly forgettable popcorn fodder. While Underwater isn’t going to transform your life, it offers a reasonably silly but diverting movie experience that won’t leave you asking for more.

About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email lisa@essentiallypop.com

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