If the creature lives miles below on the dark, deep human inhospitable ocean floor, it needs no explanation. The fact that anything can survive there — period — is scary enough.
No surprise I totally disagree with the following quote:
It also doesn’t help that we are never offered any explanation or backstory of what is hunting them down. This is what I, and most moviegoers, found the most disappointing.Underwater was not explained: What were those sea monsters?
I was disappointed in the movie, yes, but not for the reason explained above. That reason makes little sense. Especially for anybody who watches even a small amount of horror movies.
The unknown is scary!
Was the monster in Alien explained in the first film? No. It ruins the horror when too much is explained.
Before going further my critique that follows contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen this movie and want to, then best to bookmark and come back afterwards and see what you agree or disagree with.
… you’ve been warned SPOILERS ahead …
Kristen Stewart’s (lack of) Acting is Scary
I don’t get the draw of Kristen Stewart. No, really, and while this might sound personal it’s totally professional. What movie has her performance(s) been good in to warrant receiving multiple leading roles in feature films? Somebody please tell me in the comments or on Twitter (@Todd_Russell). Her acting sucked in Charlie’s Angels⭐️½ and was perhaps worse in this film. Don’t talk to me about the sparkly vampires of Twilight either, because I like my fanged bloodsuckers to be firmly on the horrific side, thank you.
Surely, better skilled female actresses can be cast roles in feature films? Maybe Kristen Stewart should go back behind the camera again? Her Wikipedia page cites directing experience. It also cites criticism for her acting being “wooden” and expressionless at times in the Twilight series. Bingo!
Stewart’s characterization is more lifeless in this film than the creature swimming around the ocean floor. I’d rather see that thing as the lead.
We’ve Seen This Plot Before
Trapped underwater? Done. Monster at the bottom of the sea? Check. Crew about to be crushed by pressure of the ocean? Check. A side character who cracks stupid jokes? Check. Drilling into the unknown and bad things happening? Sigh, check.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) was a vastly stronger and superior female hero and actress than Kristen Stewart against a fierce, relentless monster.
Everything is from the textbook of stories already done. Nothing fresh.
The Sound of Blaring, Distorted Music
Whomever did the music, and no I didn’t bother to look up the composer needs to learn that the volume at 12 when it should be 5 or 6 is not the way to do sound. Sure, grunge was a thing … in the 90s! This is 2020 and I don’t go to see horror movies to feel like I’m on some rave dance floor.
Worse than the overdriven intensity was the music just didn’t fit in parts. It’s like the music editing is matched up to an 80s film in 2020. I love 80s synth music like John Carpenter, but he expertly knew how to make the music relevant to scenes. There is very little relevance to what’s on the screen. That’s my biggest issue with the sound.
To say I disliked this movie is an understatement. I would have liked this movie a lot better if it was not such an obvious rip-off of better movies, had better actors, script, cinematography (where are the colors?!?!) and less inappropriate music.
The only good news for this film is I’m merely one movie reviewer who didn’t like it. In my reading, I found some other moviegoers that were able to overlook — or didn’t seem to experience — these same film shortcomings. I’m not saying those reviewers are wrong and I’m right, just saying others reading can decide upon multiple sources rather than simply one.
Reviews by Others
Now let’s check in with Underwater reviews from movie bloggers I read and follow.
- Amused in the Dark: “…won’t win any awards, it doesn’t change the status quo of film, it doesn’t particularly do anything groundbreaking, and sadly will go overlooked by most.”
- Bryan Caron / Chaos Breeds Chaos (Grade: B): “It may not follow the usual formula, and the characters may all be cookie cutter disaster wannabes from other better films of this nature, but the film clearly does what it sets out to do”
- Britany Murphy / Geeks of Color: “…a decent viewing experience but it was nothing special and I’d say that the similar stories … were done in a much better way. “
- Collin Willis / Moviebabble: “…is a very enjoyable movie. I won’t carry fond memories of it, and I probably won’t go out of my way to watch it again. However, I had a damn good time watching it in theaters.”
- Film Music Central: “I was terrified for most of it, I don’t regret going to see Underwater. It’s frightening, a lot of it is scarily plausible, and that last bit at the end makes me super curious to see if there are any follow-ups in the future”
- Jason Bleau / Movie Reviews & More (4/5): “For now, if you’re seeking a fun sci-fi survival story that’ll chill you to the bone based on its setting alone “Underwater” gets the job done.”
- Kelly Konda / We Minored In Film: “I had a blast with this movie. It’s serious when it needs to be, bonkers when it wants, and constructed around a solid lead performance and cool monster design. January burn-off movies are rarely so competent.”
- Leonard Wilson / Through The Shattered Lens: “Overall, I enjoyed Underwater more than I thought I would. It spends a lot of time doing things that other films already did, but does so in such a way where it’s not entirely wasted.”
- P.L McMillan (9.5/10): “Seriously, I really loved this movie. Just absolutely loved it.”
- Puzzled Pagan Presents: “It’s a fun little sci-fi flick that is perhaps more well-made than it needed to be, an original film that while certainly indebted to something that came before it strives to become its own thing, and ended up being a fun time in the theater, making it that much sadder that it’s completely bombing with audiences.”
Not Recommended (or undecided)
- David Ferguson/Movie Reviews from the Dark: “A blatant lecture about how we are going places (deep sea) we shouldn’t go and doing things (drilling) we shouldn’t do is included for those who might not figure it out on their own, but mostly we spend our time trying to figure out how to survive the deep sea pressure with little oxygen and no escape pods.”
- Doc / Embrace Your Geekness (1.75/5): “Things were hard to see throughout and there were problems with the science of the whole thing. The logic was way off (other girl apparently had never been in one of the diving suits despite working at the bottom of the ocean. That seems as if it is a bit of a job requirement).”
- Flamingo Lifestyle (3.5/5): “…a fun, entertaining, intense, fast paced movie that features a great, lead performance by Kristen Stewart, along with the other cast members ! Underwater is a good horror movie for the month of January and while it may be slightly terrifying , it’s a treat to watch”
- Franz Patrick’s Film Archive (2/4): “While tolerable overall, the movie fails to offer a consistently captivating experience.”
- Ken Murray / The Nerds Templar: “Underwater isn’t great. Heck I don’t even know if I can say it’s good, but it’s not the unwatchable trainwreck I expected. I’ll never love the lead, but she’s serviceable here.”
- Lilyn G / Sci-Fi & Scary: “My primary issue with Underwater was exactly what I thought it was going to be. That is, of course, Kristen Stewart. I have seen her in exactly one movie where I walked away thinking “Hey, she was good in this movie!””
- Mirza Baig (2/5): “While it certainly isn’t as bad as it could have been, and is often elevated by the strong work of Kristen Stewart doing her best impression of Sigourney Weaver‘s Ripley, and possesses a creepy-and-claustrophobic miles-below-sea-level setting, the film, due to its dated formula, feels more like a tedious survival slog.”
- Roger In Orlando / Movie Nation (2/4): “a goof — a fun bad movie and a perfectly fine way to waste 90 minutes at the cinema.”
- smash writing blog: “The highest grade we give on these, is S, and this is an easy S grade movie. I had so much fun and strongly suggest watching this in the theaters”
- Society Reviews (2/5): “…feels like a film that had A quality potential but has a C movie effort. A film that is too generic for its own good, likely to be forgotten in the January release graveyard.”
- Stan The Movie Man (2/5): “I wish as much effort had been put into the story and the characters as the monster, then maybe “Underwater” would have been worth the trip to the theater. Sadly, generic characters behaving in nonsensical ways in a predictable story with a decent monster is what we are given.”
- tbmeek3 / For What It’s Worth (2/5): “…the film’s composed competently enough, and production values are high. It’s just all weighed down by an inert storyline that doesn’t even feign putting a new spin on old tropes”
Attention other movie bloggers: If I’m not following your blog, please let me know in the comments below with a link to your movie review site. If you write and share detailed reviews of new movies in theater on/around opening week, I’ll pull quote and link reviews I see, read and enjoy. Whether you know it or not, the “us” part of our domain name includes other movie bloggers like you, so please tell me about your movie review blog.
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