Horror Movie Review: Underwater (2020)

Underwater is a Sci-Fi-horror film directed by William Eubank, releasing in 2020 but filmed in 2017. Starring Kristen Stewart, It follows a group of scientists at the bottom of the ocean. An earthquake destroys their laboratory and awakens something lurking in the deep.

Norah Price (Stewart) is brushing her teeth when the research and drilling facility she’s aboard is struck by a devastating earthquake. She manages to escape a number of collapsing rooms and reunite with some crew members. They make their way to the escape pods only to find that they have all been deployed. They come across Captain Lucien, who has decided to stay behind. Lucien suggests using pressurized suits to walk one mile across the ocean floor to in the hope of resurfacing from there. As they descend in a freight elevator, a defective helmet implodes under the water pressure. The surviving crew see a distress beacon from one of the escape pods below and go to investigate.

As they arrive at the location, they find a body in the rubble. A creature emerges from the corpse’s back and attacks. They kill and take it inside only to realize that it belongs to a previously undiscovered species.

The remaining five have to make a perilous journey in the hopes of survival. They must contend with the harsh environment, dwindling oxygen and the growing threat of murderous creatures hunting them.

Underwater once again proves that we just won’t get enough horror movies set well, underwater. There’s something creepy about the deep, unexplored passages of the ocean. We really don’t know what’s down there. This film does a really good job of capturing the claustrophobic nature of such an environment. There are a number of tension filled moments that are enjoyable. However, certain chaotic scenes can be hard to follow. The camera flies around like some kind of found footage film, it’s pretty disorientating. In a way it puts you into the shows of the characters with the poor visibility etc. Still, as a viewer it’s rather frustrating.

One thing I really liked was the opening of the film. It really catches you off guard and sets the pace for the whole journey. You can immediately tell that Underwater has a budget as it delivers some wonderful visuals throughout.

On the whole, the acting is really good. Kristen Stewart is the main character and I’m not really her biggest fan. Unfortunately, her performance is somewhat lacking here. Norah is a hardened individual who has good reason to not show much emotion. It almost feels like an excuse so Stewart can deliver her signature monotone dialogue and wooden expressions. I’m being a bit harsh on her because she isn’t too bad. In fact, I was really impressed by her physicality and she certainly looks the part.

In these types of scenarios it’s impossible to not draw comparisons to movies like Alien or Aliens. It does all feel way too familiar at times. However, at least in Alien you get a few scenes that show the crew bonding. You don’t really get anything like that here. They bounce off of each other well enough but you never really feel that bond. They feel more like a group of individuals. Each of them has their own story that’s meant to make you care but none are fleshed out very well at all. It leaves you in a position where you don’t care much when they start getting killed. Remembering their names is even an issue.

Although, some of their deaths are enjoyable because of how inventive and nasty they are in concept. Unfortunately, this could have used a heavy dose of gore. The creatures themselves look a bit CG when they are moving around. However, the film does give you plenty of opportunity to see them up close and personal. You know a film knows that they have something that looks good when it does this. Yes, they look really good. I particularly liked their glowing eyes which is a nice creepy touch.

Overall, Underwater is worth your time. At times, it feels like a complete rip-off of Alien but it manages to do just enough good that I could look past it. In fact, it’s far more “Lovecraftian” in nature than it initially appears which is a definite positive. In some ways it’s a missed opportunity to make something truly original, a shame.

  • The Final Score - 6.5/10
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