William Eubank's Underwater is a lean horror film, paying homage to classics, while also taking advantage of its unique setting and excellent cast. Kristen Stewart dominates the screen, while the creature designs and overall special effects make the film look and feel distinguished. This movie never lets up, jumping into action within mere minutes and keeping that momentum until the very end.
Director William Eubank‘s (The Signal) latest deep sea thriller Underwater is the perfect blend of horror, atmosphere and talent, making for one of the first good movies of 2020 and one of the better horror/sci-fi hybrids in recent memory. Some might fault it for feeling like Alien set underwater, while I credit Eubank and his writers for being able to take a familiar scenario and capitalize on it, with a fresh look at feel, anchored by an effective cast.
Underwater follows a group of aquatic researchers that have been forced to react to a mysterious underwater earthquake that is causing them to find safety and evacuate as quickly as possible.
Norah (Kristen Stewart) is a helpful mechanical engineer that knows her way around the ship. She is introduced immediately and sets the pace for the characters of this film, which surprisingly all bring value to the team.
Alongside Norah is her Captain (Vincent Cassel), Emily (Jessica Henwick) and a few other notable crew members, played by T.J. Miller and John Gallagher Jr..
What makes Underwater work so much more than one might expect is the cast members that have been assembled. Kristen Stewart plays a believable resource that slowly morphs into an underwater bad ass, while the rest of the cast serves their purpose to help move the plot forward.
T.J. Miller might be singled out as the comedic relief, but his witty remarks are much needed as the team slowly starts to discover what truly happened and what they need to do to get to safety.
Director William Eubank is working from a script penned by Brian Duffield and Adam Cozad. The script is definitely familiar, yet Eubank’s direction makes the film feel entirely like its own thing.
The film’s attention to detail, specifically with its set design, makes the film feel lived in and real. The station appears weathered and on its last legs, while even the suits look bulky and outdated, yet detailed enough where every aspect of them was planned out and given a purpose.
I love when space/underwater films go the extra mile to create a new world for us to live in, even if a particular set piece is only meant to be walked through for a grand total of five minutes.
Eubank and his team have done a splendid job with the film’s budget trying to capture all of this and give it a purpose throughout the film, without anything ever feeling forced or lazily inserted.
I must also honor the special effects team for the creature designs as they not only rock, but are terrifying and original. I always worry about films that tease the creatures in the trailer, but never really show them. Because more often than not, the reveal is a giant disappoint or avoided as much as possible, due to budgetary constraints or lack of creativity.
Underwater gives you full-on looks at the various creatures lurking in the darkness and they are frightening and downright awesome.
The film also moves at a pace that keeps your pulse beating fast, giving us a brief intro and then just throwing us into the action within two minutes and never really letting up until the film’s closing credits. Eubank is able to do this without ever rushing character beats or at the sacrifice of something crucial to the film’s success and for that I bow to his greatness as we really do need more action movies that follow this code of lean and mean.
Underwater appeared out of nowhere when its trailers launched, with a swirl of rumors surrounding the film’s quality as it finished shooting all the way back in 2017, but was mysteriously shelved. On top of that, it was given the horrid January release date, which usually shows a lack of faith from the studio or that usually means a stinker might be on our hands.
I can confidently say that none of those things mean a damn to this film, because Underwater is one of the most refreshingly kick ass films that I have seen in quite some time. It’s all kinds of “my shit” and I mean that as a sincere gesture — William Eubank‘s latest looks and feels like a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster that deserves to take the box office by storm and demand several sequels.
I loved the creature designs, the suits, the ship and how Eubank is able to bring that all together with his cast to make a truly impressive horror/sci-fi hybrid that’s full of atmosphere and jump scares, but also a good story that makes sense.
Nothing about Underwater feels cheap or rushed or anything like what you’d probably come to expect from a film of this caliber. Underwater is the jolt in your heart that you forgot you needed and yes Kristen Stewart leads boldly, giving us a character that’s resourceful, smart, confident and also an ass-kicker of any monster trying to do damage to her ship or her friends and we all need to watch out for her.
Go and support Underwater while you can as it is likely one of the last films of its kind to come out of Fox before Disney starts laying down the law. Underwater has franchise potential that I would love to see explored and it’s just a damn good time at the cinema that we don’t see enough of.