Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Underwater

A crew of aquatic researchers work to get to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory. But the crew has more than the ocean seabed to fear.

8 of 9 viewers "Liked" "Underwater" (2020, USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

Listener Sam - "Underwater is aggressively unlike the vast majority of blockbusters being released nowadays. The movie has a laser focus. From minute three onward the driving force is "get from point A to point B," and for a $60M+ movie, it sticks to this extremely tightly. The tension is relentless. The claustrophobia and crushing weight of the 7 miles of water is palpable. Reprieve only occurs as characters descend elevators or ride brutally slow trams, and we get short, human moments that drive narrow character arcs that are driven by primal motivation. The deaths are visceral and there's a lot of implied gore for a PG13 movie (including an incredible explosive depressurization.) It also has some of the coolest creature designs I've seen in years. It's got shades of Deep Rising, Leviathan, and Deepstar Six, and Lovecraft's Shadow Over Innsmouth, while creating something uniquely its own. If you like aquatic horror and lean late-eighties creature features, you'll probably love this. You're not going to get a traditional studio blockbuster, but you'll get a nostalgic throwback with constant tension, interesting characters, and badass killer mermaids." - 4.5 Stars

Clark Little - "We occupy a cinematic landscape that is littered with cookie-cutter remakes and plain-jane blockbusters for the masses. It is refreshing to come across a larger budget monster flick that isn't borrowed from a previous property- a new idea. However, Underwater doesn't do enough to separate itself from the droning, derivative dirge that is January releases. The production design and CG work were worth the price of admission. The creatures were great and I wish there was more, especially from our headliner. Corners were not cut on the production and that was very refreshing. Unfortunately, one has to account for the story, characters, and the crow-barred geo-political ending. For the majority of this 95 minute run time, I was disengaged and was apathetic towards the telegraphed ending that canonized our heroine protagonist. If you're going to be bleak, I'd rather you be bleak in the story, rather than putting it on the shoulders of the voting public who want and need escapism and not another reminder that the world is a toilet that is on fire. In addition, the characters were uninteresting and devoid of charm or charisma. Shooting on and in water is an incredibly difficult and expensive task and I'm sad to say that this film will stay on the ocean floor of my memory." - 2.5 Stars

Grey Ranger - "It's a programmer: it does what it says it'll do, nothing more...yet nothing less. It's not going to reinvent genre cinema, but if Kirsten Stewart vs. deep sea horror is your idea of a good time, then that is what you get. Stewart reliably leads a cast who all convey the cabin fever that comes with too much time spent miles below sea level. You get more-than-decent set and costume design, a fine and brooding score by Marco Beltrami and Brandon Roberts, and the thing's even generous enough to give you a couple of good long looks at the creatures. All of which is not bad for a January release of a movie that's been on the shelf since 2017." - 3 Stars

The Impostor - "This is one of the better January horror releases. Underwater takes no time getting straight to the horror and suspense and keeps you engaged 'till the very end. I felt claustrophobic from a few scenes and the underwater creatures looked cool. Underwater is fast paced yet still gives us insight into the characters which isn't easy to do. Lately, horror has been supernatural and remakes/reboots so it's definitely refreshing to see this creature feature survival horror released. While it doesn't bring anything new to the table, it's definitely entertaining and made me jump quite a bit. Overall solid film and I'm impressed with how much I enjoyed it." - 3.5 Stars

KillDozer - "Remember when genre fans proudly supported horror films? When we as a community wore our love of horror like a badge of honor and had no fear of pretentious film critics trashing our community or belittling us for loving the genre? The time has come to once again have fun and embrace our inner monster kids. Underwater is a beautifully written, acted, shot, and produced... Horror Film!! A solid reminder of how to take you to familiar places and still give you an experience that leaves you wanting more. It's okay to fall for a jump scare, to laugh at the comic relief, or even hope the hero survives. Yes, this is not A24 and that's a good thing! We are a diverse group who wants to be entertained! Underwater is fun and exciting. I can honestly say it has something for everyone. In a better world, this film would get as much attention as Us but this isn't a better world so I won't hold my breath and wait for the "millennial horror fans" to catch up to the fact that it's okay to like monster movies!" - 4 Stars (Collection worthy)

Drumachine - "Underwater does an excellent job of reinforcing my fears of the deep ocean. The set design and score were exceptionally thoughtful, and I appreciated the nods to its inspirations. I do wish there was a bit more to the characters." - 3.5 Stars

Lord Battle - "Fuck, Underwater is good. K Stew staring in a sci-fi horror set in a deep sea water base couldn't sound less deprived of creativity, but it DELIVERS. Underwater starts with a voice over that might make you think this is going to be a deliberately paced existential horror that's stepping waaay outside of its capabilities, yet it's a film that's 100% aware that it's playing in a sandbox built by Ridely Scott and Walter Hill. Remember how Rear Window started its storytelling with framed photos? Now imagine a fast-paced action film where everything we learned about the characters happened in quick visuals like that Rear Window opening. It's brilliant! So make sure you go see that beautiful flat chested, elf-like creature K-Stew and support this dumped block buster and all its Old Ones/Neil Marshall glory!" - 4.5 Stars

Wondering Panda - "I tell you what, I like this film a lot. It's dark, cold, claustrophobic. It builds tension and has an amazing reveal. I had very low expectations for Underwater and that worked in the film's favor. I'm amazed by its ambiance and its feeling of hopelessness. The film did a great job with the material it had. And I enjoyed myself." - 4 Stars

Huntress - "Sure, I noticed some similarities between Underwater and Alien, even in the trailer, but if anything that made me want to see the movie even more. It's clearly not a remake of any kind, but it has some familiar elements scattered throughout. The tension is suffocating. Set entirely seven miles under sea level, the exterior shots are both beautiful and terrifying, especially when the survivors are being pursued by something they can't identify. This was another case of me liking all the characters so much I was really bummed when anyone died, but then their deaths looked so good it was hard not to gasp. The creature designs were amazing and daring. And then there's the ending... I don't know why anyone would agree to to into the ocean again." - 4.5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

The following is a series of texts sent after Listener Sam saw the Alamo New Mission's early screening of Underwater. The following has been edited in no way.

-Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Century Theater for a screening on 1/9/2019
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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