• 47 Meters Down

    Released by: Anchor Bay/Lionsgate
    Release date: September 26, 2017
    Directed by: Johannes Roberts
    Cast: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine, Santiago Segura, Yani Gellman, Chris J. Johnson
    Year: 2016/2017
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Ever since Jaws tore its way through the summer box office of 1975, killer sharks have been a big draw, with producers hoping to emulate the receipts brought by Spielberg’s sophomore theatrical effort. It hasn’t happened yet, though there have been a few notable attempts, including Jaws 2 (1978) and Deep Blue Sea (1999). Some have been pretentious (Open Water, 2003), others overrated (The Shallows, 2016), and still others sublimely ridiculous (Sharknado, 2013). Some have been released theatrically, some sent straight to television hell, and some dropped into the home video hole. But since the late ‘90s, they’ve all had one thing in common: bad CGI sharks swimming in murky CGI depths. This year’s offering, 47 Meters Down, is no exception.

    Lisa (Mandy Moore) isn’t having a good time; her boyfriend has broken up with her because she’s “boring,” and now her sister, Kate (Claire Holt) has taken her on vacation in Mexico for a fun time in the sunny clime. It isn’t working, so Kate insists they go out dancing and drinking, hoping they don’t wind up the next Natalie Holloways. At a local bar, the young women meet some young men who invite them along on a shark dive the next day. The sisters agree, and early the next morning, they meet the young men at the harbor. The boat looks less than savory, and given that this is horror-film Mexico, viewers fully expect that the girls are going to be trussed up and thrown overboard to feed the sharks. And they are. Kind of.

    The captain (Matthew Modine) baits the sharks, which scares Lisa (who really is boring, it seems, or sensible… probably both), but the girls suit up and climb into the diving cage regardless. And you’ll never guess what happens next. If you say, “The cable connecting the diving cage to the boat breaks, and the girls plummet 47 meters down into the deep blue sea,” then, well… you guessed correctly after all. Because that’s exactly what happens. And they don’t have a whole lot of air left, and they’re just out of radio reach. To make their situation even scarier, they can’t swim to safety because the sharks are swirling overhead.

    Meanwhile, the captain sends junky (pronounce the j as an h; this is Mexico, after all) Javier with a spare winch to reattach the diving cage to the boat. Only, he never makes it, at least not all of him, thanks to those meddling sharks. Just some meat and gristle and the winch. Things go from bad to worse, however, when the new winch breaks; only this time, when the cage hits the seabed, Lisa’s leg is trapped under it. The girls fret, they get attacked by sharks, they fret some more, one cuts herself and the blood drifts into the open water, things get worse, they seem to get better, then they get worse again, then things get really stupid, and then there’s a twist ending that actually kind of saves the whole thing.

    Now here’s the thing: 47 Meters Down may be an average film, but it’s never boring. Not for a single moment. It’s relatively short, and the CGI sharks aren’t as bad as those in your average SyFy movie. The director keeps the pace up, the performances are generally good, and there’s that wonderful little ending to make it all better.

    Made on a low budget of a little over $5 million, the film brought in around $50 million at the box office, so apparently some viewers were impressed enough to give it good word of mouth. And there are a couple of successful chills. Just ask any little kids who saw it; they’ll tell you…


    Anchor Bay brings 47 Meters Down to Blu-ray with an MPEG-4 AVC encode in 1080p high definition at the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1. There are a couple of scenes with desaturated colors that also strip some of the detail, but overall the image looks quite good, particularly when taking place outside in the bright sunlight. It looks a little less impressive underwater, though this no doubt has more to do with the equipment used than any directorial choices. One thing the hi-def, underwater camera does not handle well is the color blue, so naturally the director puts Claire Holt in blue headgear, which takes on a strange three-dimensional look that stands out in relief against the murky background. The CGI sharks fare pretty well against their brethren in many another modern horror film, and even underwater, there’s often a clarity to the image, perhaps a bit too much given the depths to which the diving cage falls. (That said, there are a few instances in which very little can be made out.) There’s no grain other than the slight amount needed to trick average viewers into believing they’re watching a film that’s shot on film (as in, 35mm). Finally, the movie is placed on a BD25, but given its relatively short running time and few extras, there are no real compression issues to speak of.

    The film’s primary soundtrack is offered in lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and it’s pretty astounding. During the film’s party and outdoor sequences, the surround is put to particularly good use, though the workout gets a bit of a relief once the principal action moves underwater for the remainder of the film’s duration. There are no issues with hiss or dropout or unexpectedly sharp shifts in sound levels. There are English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired, as well as Spanish subtitles for the English impaired. There’s also an audio commentary from writer/director Roberts and producer James Harris; the accents are a little thick but the men are still understandable. They start off the conversation discussing where they came up with the idea for the film and how Roberts pitched it to Harris. They also discuss where the film was shot, the calls they had to make to get it released, the cast (Roberts “fought hard for Mandy” after seeing her in Saved! when he was younger), where the underwater sequences were shot, and so on. It’s an interesting commentary, one that should be enlightening for fans of the film. Some of the same topics are broached in “Unexpected Originality: The Making of 47 Meters Down” (11:12). Interviewed there are Roberts, Harris, Moore, Holt, and producer Mark Lane.

    When the disc is placed in the disc player, two trailers automatically play. The first is Open Water 3: Cage Dive (2017), the second Deepwater Horizon (2016). Both trailers together run 3:55 and also can be accessed through the special features on the menu.

    Included with the Blu-ray is a DVD containing the same materials, as well as a code for digital download.

    The Final Word:

    47 Meters Down is dumb, fun entertainment, silly but fast moving, with a whopper of a twist ending. The image looks great above water and variable underwater; while the sound sounds great above water and… still very good underwater. The commentary is enlightening, the featurette interesting.

    Christopher Workman is a freelance writer, film critic, and co-author (with Troy Howarth) of the Tome of Terror horror film review series. Horror Films of the Silent Era and Horror Films of the 1930s are currently available, with Horror Films of the 1940s due out in 2018.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!