47 Meters Down Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine. Directed by Johannes Roberts. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday citywide.
Thanks in large part to the popularity of the Sharknado series, the recent trend in shark movies has been to go sillier and more over-the-top, with ridiculous, pun-filled titles like Raiders of the Lost Shark and Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (both actual movies). That makes a movie like Johannes Roberts’ 47 Meters Down even more of a rarity: It’s a lean, suspenseful survival thriller that involves shark attacks, with no self-aware jokes or absurd sci-fi twists. The setup is minimal, sketching out a relationship between vacationing sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt), who make an ill-fated decision to go on an interactive shark dive run by some shady locals.
Trapped in a rickety cage at the bottom of the ocean, the sisters contend with deadly sharks (impressively rendered via CGI) along with a dwindling air supply and other threats. There are occasional contrivances to stretch out the plot, and some of the dialogue is repetitive and clumsily delivered. But most of the movie is tense and well-crafted, making great use of the murky depths surrounding the characters. No sharknados needed.