Underwater - An Aquarium From Hell

A crew of aquatic researchers in an underwater laboratory facility run for their lives as it’s hit by an earthquake. In their quest for survival they encounter mysterious sea creatures.

The plot is a relatively simple survival-horror story; the characters need to leave one facility to get to another that has escape pods. There are dangerous sea-creatures as well as various obstacles and limited resources that threaten their chances.

What I love about this film is how instantaneous the action is; we have an extremely quiet start that goes at a very slow pace, and then … bang!! A burst of water comes through and the facility is crumbling down. It’s fantastic as we the audience briefly experience this mundane environment, then a sudden adrenaline rush.

This film does something important that a lot of horror films fail to deliver nowadays - making us care about the characters. Other horror films tend to have several characters that you know are just there to be killed off, so they don’t give them any depth and they can be annoying or unlikeable. While the characters in this film aren’t the most developed, they all get their time to stand out, even in smaller moments just to make them feel more relatable to the audience, therefore you don’t want any of them to die.

I feel like it’s about time people get off the ‘I hate Kristen Stewart’-train, yes I know she’s created a bad name for herself because of the Twilight films, but I honestly don’t know how any actress could’ve played one of the worst written, most bland and boring protagonists (Bella Swan), any better than she did. The point is Kristen Stewart is wonderful and while I don’t consider this one of her better performances (I would give that to Welcome To The Rileys and Personal Shopper among others) she’s still great in this film.

I liked her character Norah, she’s a solid protagonist who cares about the people with her and does what she has to do to help them and I admired a particular decision she made at the end. Vincent Cassel is great as the Captain, I’m used to him playing the bad guy in films he’s in, but here he’s genuinely likeable.

T.J. Miller is also great as the comedic character Paul, who could’ve easily been really annoying but he’s actually funny, and he makes the comedy seem natural in the extreme circumstances. Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr. and Mamoudou Athie are also great in their roles and everyone in the cast had great chemistry.

The creature designs are based on The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft and it wisely doesn’t show them on-screen, like the shark in Jaws or the xenomorph from Alien, keeping some mystery and tension until the end.

The underwater action is very well done, even though it’s dark they do a good job at lighting and editing so you can tell what’s going on. Interior scenes are shot intimately to keep the claustrophobic tension.

The colour turquoise is prominent throughout the film and keeps the water-y feeling going, even in dry scenes. The turquoise is a great contrast to the black in the dark scenes, creating an aquarium-from-hell-like atmosphere.

While this won’t be a sci-fi horror classic like Alien, it’s an entertaining watch. If you enjoy films like Event Horizon, Life, The Shallows and Crawl then you’ll certainly like this film.

Written by Jack Parish

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