January 12, 2020

Underwater (2020)

I was really, really excited about this one. I've always had an affinity for anything that happens underwater, and I've always had a slightly paralyzing fear of the open ocean. But The Abyss is one of the best films I've ever seen, and I generally enjoy Kristen Stewart's performances, so I couldn't wait to see what Underwater had to offer. Don't worry, I won't spoil it. Read on...

  • The cinematography was beautiful. It looked like water. It looked like metal. It looked like two things that don't belong together: humans with their concrete, glass, and steel structures, and the wild, deep, serene, natural ocean. I thought it was confining and claustrophobic and dirty and fantastic. Right from the get-go you're struck with the feeling that people don't belong down there, and for a horror flick that's set underwater, that's a great place to start. 
  • K-Stew. I like her. Yeah, fuck you, I said it. I LIKE HER! She might always be singing the same note no matter what movie she's in, but it's a note that I enjoy listening to. And, yeah, she's beautiful, but not in the same way her Hollywood peers are. There's something different and special about her. And there's always a fragility and vulnerability to her that charges her characters with a weird, spastic energy that I love. To me, it makes her feel more "real." She was great in this. She gave a solid performance and I applaud her work. 
  • The monsters are really damn scary. I've seen so many horror films, it's hard to get me to jump. I always joke that "I can't get got," but the first jump scare in this film (there are several) sent my arms flailing and I did an audible squeal. That's saying something. That's high praise! 
  • The sound editing was spot-on! Every little creak and glass-crack was nerve-wracking perfection. 
  • The opening credits music was fantastic. 
Kristen Stewart in Underwater (2020)
  • Underwater is a terrible title. 
  • If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I canNOT stand when a woman is wearing makeup during parts of a film where she would absolutely not be wearing make up. Kristen manages to keep the perfect smoky eye shadow and mascara going through the whole thing, no matter how bloody or wet she gets. She even gets cleaned up after some pretty harrowing action scenes, and still has makeup on. Why?! Did she re-apply it after she took a shower? It's so insulting. Seriously, I had to stop watching Fear the Walking Dead because it drove me absolutely nuts that the teen girl in it always had the perfect blow-out and makeup on. She might have slept in the desert for two straight weeks, but that hair was always loose and shiny and perfectly, professionally blown-out. No. No. No. So dumb. Directors, women are allowed to get marred, okay? They can be without makeup for a scene or two. Stop this madness!
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in The Abyss (1989)
  • There is absolutely ZERO character development in this film. The action starts almost immediately. Like, way too soon. When you want an example of how to perfectly pace an underwater action film, look no further than The Abyss. Before anything action-y happened, we knew those characters, we understood their lives and their motivations, and we cared about them. We even cared about the bitch, who later became the heroine (who, by the way, is not wearing makeup, or at least a very minimal amount, if any). We get some haphazard character cards placed hither and thither throughout Underwater, but they feel pointless and silly by the time you see them. And, since those characters were never developed initially, you don't really care. 
  • The character played by TJ Miller wasn't necessary and felt disingenuous, like forced comic relief. I hope there's a DVD cut that leaves his character out of the film entirely.   

The film felt rushed and unfinished for me. It felt like a short film. The special effects were fantastic, but I needed more character development and I needed it to be a bit longer, with more life stuff happening outside of the action. I didn't find myself caring when a character died, or when a character lived, because I didn't know them. That said, however, I can honestly proclaim that I enjoyed the film. There wasn't much of a story, which is a shame. It could have been loads better with a longer, and more fleshed out, script. But, for what it was, it's worth seeing. I also want to support any original film that puts in an honest effort, even if it's not perfect. I'm so damn sick of remakes.

In conclusion, go see it and be sure you see it in a theater. The sound editing alone will jangle your nerves enough to make you enjoy it. And go support some original film-making. They're not all going to be Jaws or The Abyss, but that doesn't mean they're not going to be fun. Well... except the sequel to 47 Meters Down. That was a piece of shit.

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