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Monday, July 20, 2020

Underwater (2020)

I’m normally not a fan of big budget Hollywood horror. It really does nothing for me, which is why I ignored Underwater when it was in the theaters. Also, if I’m going to be completely honest, I really am not a fan of actress Kristen Stewart. Partially because of the sparkly vampire nonsense and partially because she hasn’t done anything I liked. That is until now.

After a bit of voiceover, we meet Norah, played by Stewart, and quickly establish that she is on an underwater rig that is drilling on the bottom of the ocean. Before you can even process that a disaster happens, and the environment is breached. Norah and another survivor end up running for their lives as the station collapses underneath the tremendous weight of the ocean. She meets up with some other survivors and realizes that all of the escape pods have been used. Quickly they decide their only hope is to reach another set of pods, but this requires them to walk quite a distance on the oceans floor wearing only their dive suits.

Along the way they find an escape pod that was destroyed with the body inside being fed on by something. Soon after that they notice that they aren’t alone as their drilling has unleashed a mass of creatures from the ocean’s floor. The rest of the movie is a survival horror setup where they are racing to reach the pods before being killed by the creatures. This all ends with a killer reveal that I will talk a bit about later.

I’m shocked at how much I liked this movie. The action kicks in right away and honestly never stops. This is a rare horror movie that is very scary before you know that there are monsters. We don’t start seeing the creatures for thirty-five minutes, but between the setting and disaster there is already enough tension that I was on the edge of my seat. Hell, a guy implodes into gooey bits before we even see a monster! When they do show up, they look great. They come darting in and out of the shadows grabbing at the characters which only ratchets up the tension. I did not expect the movie to have this many scares in it, and they don’t feel forced.

creatures look cool. 
I suppose I should talk creatures here. These all appear to be CGI but considering the setting and that they are only seen in the water that doesn’t bother me at all. This is such an alien environment to begin with that the digital creatures fit right in and look natural, as if they belong in the off-kilter environment that the movie takes place in. There are some decent kills with a couple implosions, another guy being sucked out of his suit, and a body getting munched on. It is decent, though be warned that this is a movie that leans more into scaring you then it does trying to gross you out. That said we do get a disturbing view of a character trying to be swallowed by one of the things that is horrifying.

Pardon me while I nerd out!!!
This next bit has some spoilers so if you want to avoid them just pop down to the final paragraph of my review. If you guys haven’t figured out by reading my reviews here at the site, I’m a huge horror nerd. That includes reading with author H.P. Lovecraft being a favorite of mine. When we get to the end of the movie there is a big reveal that I loved. The man-sized creatures they have been fighting live on a much larger creature… one that looks just like Cthulhu… one that according to the lore of Lovecraft lives at the bottom of the sea. Damn it movie I was already liking you and then you toss this added bit of fun in as well. The identity of the big creature in the finale was confirmed by the director to be the Elder God… I’m so hoping for a sequel!

I like a Kristen Stewart flick. There is a sentence that I never thought that I would utter or write, but it is true. I also have to say that she is excellent in this one and nails her character. Underwater is a gem that I think far too many people slept on, myself included. It is available almost everywhere and is something that I think everyone should track down and check out. I highly recommend it.

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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