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47 METERS DOWN: 2 ½ STARS. “might have worked better as a silent movie.”

In the opening moments of “47 Metres Down” a strawberry margarita is spilled in a swimming pool, leaving a blood red crimson cloud in the water. It’s a not-so-subtle bit of foreshadowing of what’s to come in a movie where two American sisters become chum for some hungry sharks. Appropriately the movie hits theatres during Shark Week and the 42 anniversary of the release of “Jaws.”

Set during a fun-and-sun vacation in Mexico, sisters Lisa (the lovesick, uptight one) and Kate (the fun loving one), played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt, are on a quick get-a-way to heal Lisa’s broken heart. Her fiancé has dumped her and she hopes to make him jealous with social media pics of her whooping it up on a resort. One night in, the sisters hit the clubs, meet two handsome locals (Santiago Segura and Yani Gellman) who convince them to go diving with sharks the next day.

Despite Lisa’s misgivings they go ahead with the dive, which essentially sees them dumped into the ocean protected only by an old rusty enclosure. “It’s like you’re going to the zoo only you’re in the cage.” At first everything is fine. “It’s so cool,” says Kate in another obvious bit of foreshadowing. “I could stay down here forever.” The winch snaps sending them plummeting 47 metres to the ocean floor. Panic and bad decisions ensue, leaving them with just minutes to find a way to navigate through the sharks (and red herrings) to the surface.

Described as “Gravity, but underwater,” it’s a race against time as must escape before their oxygen runs out.

The amount of times people say, “Relax you’re going to have fun,” to Lisa is directly proportional to the amount of trouble she encounters. That is to say, she’s in a heap of trouble and we’re down there with her. Director Johannes Roberts submerges the camera about twenty-five minutes in and keeps the action waterlogged for the remainder of the tight eighty-nine minute running time. As an anxiety-inducing soundtrack grates in the background he plays on primal fears, the dark, the unrelenting power of the ocean and women against nature.

It’s fairly intense although I couldn’t help but think that it might have worked better as a silent movie. Moore and Holt spend much of the film grunting, yelling and making sounds of distress but, to paraphrase another movie tagline, deep underwater no one can hear you scream. Imagine the deafening silence and the horror of not being able to communicate in such dire circumstances.

“47 Metres Down” is an underwater exploitation b-movie that plays up on the archetype of the shy character who finds hidden reserves of courage. But, and there will be no spoilers here, it makes just enough unexpected choices along the way to keep things interesting.

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