Underwater monster movies were a thing back in the ’80s and ’90s with films like Leviathan, DeepStar Six and The Rift basically relocating the plot of Alien to the depths of the ocean.

This derivative but entertaining sci-fi/horror sub-genre has now resurfaced with Underwater, which pits the crew of a deep sea mining operation in the Mariana Trench against an angry behemoth.

However, unlike the aforementioned films, Underwater doesn’t waste time mucking about with things like crew introductions and exposition. The cast, led by Kristen Stewart, and the audience are thrown into the deep end – seven-miles below to be exact – from the very beginning, when an earthquake threatens the structural integrity of an undersea base and escape becomes imperative.

Stewart and the surviving crew – including Vincent Cassel, John Gallagher Jr., Jessica Henwick, and T.J. Miller (providing the comic relief) – must suit up and take a perilous stroll across the sea floor to the drill site, where escape pods are waiting. Also waiting in the murk and swirling silt are hungry creatures that have been released from a hidden cavern by the quake…

Underwater might have an unimaginative (albeit self-explanatory) title, but it’s imaginatively – and thrillingly – executed, with a relentless pace and first rate production values. This is a big, expensive looking monster movie.

Stewart does a decent job as the resourceful Ripley-type (even stripping down to her underwear during the climax) but we’re here for the monsters, and Underwater delivers a Lovecraftian leviathan that doesn’t disappoint.

Nor does the movie. Pedantic critics and viewers who’ll moan about a lack of originality have probably never seen a film of this type. Ultimately Underwater ticks all the mandatory boxes for this sub-genre – Alien-inspired, a base under siege, a cool monster, a death by explosive decompression – and ranks as a pretty impressive entry.             

Featuring some tense and terrifying set pieces, this big budget thrill ride introduces the underwater monster movie to a new generation, who will hopefully take the plunge and explore past examples of this tenacious and enjoyable genre.

In cinemas: January 23, 2020
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, Jessica Henwick
Directed by: William Eubank

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