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When 47 Meters Down first debuted in theaters, 2017 audiences turned an unassuming horror film into a surprising hit. A sequel was all but assured in that moment, which eventually lead to the creation of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.
In situations such as these, the law of diminishing returns becomes a concern, as a second bite at the apple isn’t always going to be as fresh as the first. As it applies to director Johannes Roberts’ return trip to the series he helped make a sleeper success, the returns have not only diminished, they’ve totally cratered with ludicrously boring results.
Rather than act as a direct sequel or even be remotely connected to its predecessor, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is a totally new story about a pair of step-sisters (Sistine Rose Stallone and Corinne Foxx) who aren’t the best of siblings. What’s supposed to be a day of bonding imposed by their parents (Nia Long and John Corbett) turns into a day out with some friends, in a secluded spot far away from anyone’s knowledge.
Curiosity about an underwater ruin gets the better of this group, and soon the four young women are trapped in a submerged city, with a hungry shark stalking them through the labyrinthian passages they need to navigate to freedom.
From the outset, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged looked like it was going to take the concept of humans versus sharks and turn it into something more tense and exciting than it did in 47 Meters Down. And yet, somehow, this fresh adventure in the world of aquatic terror is an even saltier disappointment than the already lackluster original.
Part of this movie’s problem is the fact that for most of the already short running time 47 Meters Down: Uncaged has to its credit, it’s a water-logged bore. There’s no real sense of tension or build up in the opening acts, and when the action gets going, the scares are mostly telegraphed with extremely obvious signals.
The few moments that manage to surprise the audience are either cheap jump scares or unintentionally funny moments that undercut any sort of terrorizing moments. So with the latter present, you would think that at the very least, this sequel would have some self-aware fun with itself, right?
Nothing could be further from the truth, as even the moments meant to be cheesy fun come off as lazy, with no real payoff. Not to mention that there’s one “shocking moment” that’s been stolen from another, more interesting shark film, leaving the product you’re reading about with only one really good kill in its arsenal.
Even that entertainment is ruined by the fact that 47 Meters Down: Uncaged doesn’t have enough character development to make you care what happens to the humans in the first place. There's also not enough thrills that make the sharks particularly exciting to watch. It’s a rare feat to see a film that walks a tightrope of boredom between the horror and comedy possibilities a movie like this presents in its most modestly gamed scenarios. And yet, this project deftly avoids succeeding in either category, leaving a deeply disinteresting film on the screen.
Perhaps the most frustrating part about this creature feature is that the finale lays all of its shark cards on the line in one final move of desperation, but it’s so repetitive in the way it plays them that it becomes as laughable as the idea of making this sequel. Irony is at it strongest with 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, as a pivotal moment literally involves a powerful current of suck in a film that feels like it’s constantly circling the drain.
In any given year, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged might have been a merely boring prospect at best. However, as this is the same movie season that showed us how Crawl could use enclosed spaces, an aquatic menace and a short running time to a severely more entertaining effect, excuses as to why this story couldn’t get the job done are particularly thin. Avoid this depth charge of lameness at all costs, as its failures aren’t even interesting enough to behold on even a passive level of snark.