47 Meters Down

Posted June 16, 2017 by in

Quick Stats

Genre: horror,, thriller
Director: Johannes Roberts
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Actors: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine
Length: 1 hour 29 minutes
Release Date: 6-16-2017
Studio: Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures (presents), Tea Shop & Film Company, Dimension Films (in association with), ,thefyzz
What We Thought

The bloodiest PG-13 horror movie I’ve seen. And, it actually startled me once. But as a horror film seemingly for a female audience, it’s a mixed bag.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Jaws, the mother of all shark movies.  Without it, there would be no Sharknado, no Sharktapus, and most importantly, no Samuel L. Jackson getting eaten up mid-speech in Deep Blue Sea, which is, in its campy sort of way, a significant moment in movie history.  And now, 47 Meters Below.
     The latest shark thriller comes out just after Jaws helmer Steven Spielberg came under fire for a supposed lack of female leads in his films.  It’s not so much that Elizabeth Banks’s statement is untrue; it’s inaccurate, as the majority of his films are about men, or children, but rarely women. Case in point, Jaws is about how three men defeat a gigantic shark which terrorizes a small town.  47 Meters Down, on the other hand, is about two women who find themselves stuck in a shark cage 47 meters below sea level.
      It’s a scary dilemma.  If they stay in the cage, they will run out of air and die.  If they escape the cage, a shark will devour them.  It’s a no-win situation, with the oxygen meter standing in for the Ticking Clock, a key component of the thriller genre.  It is an often an exciting film, but is 47 Meters Down doing something for gender inclusion which Spielberg’s films generally do not, especially Jaws?
     Yes and no.  The story is about sisters Kate and Lisa (Claire Holt and Mandy Moore), who are close in age, but otherwise could not be more different.  Kate is the brave one, the risk taker.  She’s the one who wants to go out on a boat into the Gulf of Mexico, climb inside a metal cage, and get a first-hand look at the deep sea’s most notorious predator.  Lisa, on the other hand, thinks this is a pretty bad idea.  She’s right.
     Let me point out that not only does the film have two women, but they are its protagonists.  It could have been about a male-female pair, such as husband and wife, or brother and sister (like Jeepers Creepers), etc., or even a male pair.  No, this films chooses to be about two women.  Of course, Kate and Lisa talk to each other, so they can work out how they can escape a hopeless situation.  The film passes the Bechdel Test (at least superficially) which is designed to determine the merits of a film for a female audience.  Is 47 Meters Down a horror film for women?  I believe so.  Not in an exclusive sense, mind you, but I argue that it’s intended to appeal to them specifically.
     However, consider this:  Lisa reveals that she took Kate along for a vacation because her boyfriend Stewart dumped her for being “too boring.”  Kate uses this knowledge to manipulate Lisa into jumping into a charter boat so rusty, it could be called the S.S. Tetanus.  The shark cage looks just as bad, and falls to the bottom of the gulf, 47 meters down.  While in the cage, Kate confesses that having a steady boyfriend was the one thing she had on Lisa.  In other words, she defines herself in terms of a relationship to a man, who dumped her, whom she’s willing do something really stupid and dangerous for just so he’ll take her back.  What do either of these girls do for a living again?
     The film is not interested in such details, or developing Kate beyond mere damsel-in-distress.  She seems to become stronger as a person as the story progresses, as her character arc demands, but in fact she does not.  In a telling moment, one of the young men on the charter boat remarks, “These white girls, they don’t know nothing.”  He says this in Spanish so they won’t comprende, for which, rather suspiciously, there are no subtitles  However, this critic speaks a little Spanish.
     This is not an aggressively misogynistic film like 2006’s The Wicker Man, similarly a horror film.  It can hardly be called a statement about gender; it’s not so overt as that.  Instead, it’s a man’s idea of what a horror movie for women is.  The film is directed by Johannes Roberts, who wrote the film with Ernest Riera.  IMDb.com lists the names of producers.  Not one of the 23 names listed belongs to a woman.  Not one.
     That said, I must admit that 47 Meters Down is exciting, and it is scary.  It’s also the bloodiest PG-13 horror movie I’ve seen.  And, it actually startled me once.  The CGI sharks look good, and are on-screen more often than Spielberg’s monster ever was.  Special effects have come a long ways since then, and more importantly, so have we.  If the films says anything, it’s that we have come a long ways, and we still have a ways to go.  But we’re trying.
     In all fairness to Spielberg, I should say that his films are often about men, but moreover, they are about humanity.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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