Another good name for 47 Meters Down would be Mandy Moore Meets Jaws, because that’s pretty much the gist of this film: two adult sisters (played by Moore and Claire Holt) on vacation decide to go scuba diving in shark infested waters when something goes horribly awry and the sharks are served up a nice meal of two chicks in a cage on the bottom of the ocean. But another name for this film was In The Deep, and that’s no joke; In The Deep was actually what 47 Meters Down was originally called when it was very briefly released on video back in 2016. The movie was being dumped back then straight to video without a theatrical release, until something interesting happened.
That was when The Shallows, starring Blake Lively as a lone surfer fending off an attacking shark, was released and became a hit. Reportedly, it was the success of The Shallows that made the producers of 47 Meters Down realize that there was money in dem there sharks, and they pulled their film from video release, changed the name, and gave it a proper theatrical release (and this seems to have worked; 47 Meters Down opened in the top five at the box office in its first weekend). However, there were still many copies of In The Deep that managed to get released on DVD, and they’ve become sought after by home video collectors.
But aside from having an interesting behind the scenes story, 47 Meters Down also works pretty well as a good little horror movie. While it’s not as contemplative and introspective as The Shallows was, eschewing the ’woman verses nature’ character study of that film, 47 Meters Down still works, despite its goofier moments--such as the beginning sequences, where Mandy Moore’s character rightly objects to going diving in shark infested waters, only to be swayed to do so just because it’ll make for an interesting story to tell at future parties.
Yet once the characters and story get submerged, 47 Meters Down becomes a gripping horror movie. The filmmakers make effective use of the darkness on the ocean bottom for jump scares of sharks that come careening out of the void with their mouths open and razor-sharp teeth exposed. It’s a movie that starts out pretty weakly, but gets much better as it goes on. This is not to say that 47 Meters Down is a shark classic in the same league as the original Jaws, but it’s a fun, scary ride though the depths of terror, and makes for a good double bill with other shark B-movies like Shark Night. --SF