'Underwater' Review: Kristen Stewart starrer is a soggy and dreary attempt at a sci-fi thriller
Despite its best attempts and occasional moments of fright, the film sinks pretty quickly and is a very dreary attempt at a sci-fi flick
Spoilers for 'Underwater'
Kristen Stewart is determined to let everyone forget her 'Twilight' days. Hell, she's no delicate Bella Swan, and she's going to prove it. It has been a decade and Stewart is still trying to find a film that sticks. If you cut through the clutter of films like the reboot of 'Charlie's Angels', you might remember her emotional and moving performance in 'Still Alice', where she played the role of a daughter trying to grapple with the seriousness of her mother's (Julianne Moore) illness. Nevertheless, luck doesn't always favor Stewart, and sadly the 2020 film 'Underwater' is proof of it.
Directed by William Eubank, 'Underwater' is a sci-fi thriller film that has an intriguing premise, but the execution is so lethargic and dreary at points, that you wonder whether the creators really had their heart in this at all. We are introduced to Nora Pryce (Stewart), who is working six miles beneath the ocean's surface on a deep drilling operation. She speaks in a rather monotonous voiceover, letting us know that she is quite the cynic and that she has a hint of a broken heart. Remember this reference to her former boyfriend, as she will use it as a reason later to make a rather startling sacrifice in the climax.
She's your average gloomy Joe, who says distressing things such as "There's a comfort to cynicism, there's a lot less to lose." However, this isn't any time to dwell on bleak things, Nora is forced out of her reverie when she realizes there's been a breach in her station's hull. And much to her shock, most of her crewmates have been killed by a flood.
She and her fellow survivors look through rubble, hoping to find others. Their adventure is far from over, as they need to descend further on the ocean floor, and that's where things get weird and claustrophobic. Their worst nightmares come true as they discover a humanoid creature who is more than ready to kill them. The rest of the film follows their survival and the battle with the deadly creature. That's the long and short of it. Is it worth a watch? No. But is it different from what we've seen in other sci-fi disaster films? Also no.
The claustrophobia of being underwater seems relentlessly real and terrifying, to the extent that you almost feel breathless. This adds to the thrill factor of this rather lackluster film, where there is hardly any character development. Women are required to shed clothes, and there's always an explanation for it, of course. Nora tells her friend Emily to take off her pants as they won't fit in the suit, and so she does. This is to provide an explanation for why Nora would spend most of the film without pants either. Yet how is it that TJ Miller's character can walk around in a suit, and be stuffed with a toy bunny as well? Possibly because men's exposure doesn't add much to the film, does it?
The message of the film is that Mother Earth is striking back mercilessly because as we're told, "We took too much, and she's taking it back." It's a great message sure, but that really did not come across at all. The film sinks pretty quickly, and is left gasping for air in the remaining run time.
Despite its best attempts, and occasional moments of fright, 'Underwater' attempt is a very soggy attempt at sci-fi, or a thriller. The film released in January and has now just come out on video on demand. If you feel like watching it, that is.