One of my favorite films might have some competition. I love disaster “trapped” films, especially with a little sci-fi flair. Pandorum is one of my favorite films, but Underwater might be taking it’s place.
The film starts out with Kristen Stewart alone, doing what looks like a standard night, or is it morning, routine. Within minutes the underwater research station begins to collapse on itself. The surviving crew is now trapped and must find a way to the surface from depths incomprehensible to modern technology. The cause of this disaster isn’t revealed until the end, but boy was it a revolutionary ending. More on that later.
As Kristen Stewart makes her way through the station, we encounter further characters played by a few unknowns as well as a couple of other known actors such as Vincent Cassel and T.J. Miller. Together the crew must move in and out of the station with special underwater suites that combat the intense pressures of the depths. While they try and get to an old station with working escape pods, they encounter something sinister and hungry in the depths. The most intense part of the film is when they have to trek miles in open water at the bottom of the ocean in order to reach the second station. This leaves them exposed to the elements as there is nowhere to truly hide.
While admittedly the character’s are somewhat flat, that doesn’t take away from the edge of your seat feel you get when watching a disaster film like this. You care more about the adventure and less about the character’s personal goals. However, better character development would have strengthened this film and created more of an emotional attachment to those that are taken by the creatures in the dark abyss.
Ultimately, this is a fun film to watch for deep space thriller fans. Especially the satisfying ending.
Here’s why the ending is so great to me. It’s probably more of a personal preference, but this is an ending I’ve been waiting for for a very long time. The reason why the station collapses in the being is explained subtlety throughout the film, but without truly giving away the ending. You think that the little creatures may have done something, or maybe the collapse was unrelated and that it was an accident. The real answer is that it was all part of a bigger picture. The little, or animal sized, creatures were merely bacteria of a much larger creature, but not just any creature. It appears in darkness and is outlined by a faint light. However it’s distinct features can be recognized by anyone who knows of H. P. Lovecraft’s vision. That’s right, it’s Cthulhu.
What I love about this revelation is not simply the fact that the creature is Cthulhu. Any one can do that. What stood out to me is how much the revealing reflected the same revealing in H. P. Lovecraft’s book. The film didn’t just insert Cthulhu and call it done, but rather paid homage to the original story. I’ve been waiting a long time for a filmmaker to do a proper Cthulhu film and Underwater does it justice. If nothing else about this film, they got that right.