[Movie Review] Underwater (2020) ★★★★☆

Norah surrounded by deep-sea creatures in Underwater 2020

Underwater is a nerve-wrecking deep-sea survival horror with a cosmic surprise. 

Underwater is a supernatural deep-sea cosmic horror adventure with a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s an exciting and thrilling deadly flight for survival that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s a non-stop spine-chilling nerve-wrecking ride with a simple storyline, navigating from one end of a deep sea station to one another. But they’re not alone…

Much obstacles have to be overcome and deep-sea monsters to avoid in order to survive. With good cinematography, logical actions and some small dramas giving the characters some depth (pun intended) it takes them on a terrifying quest for survival.


At the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 7 miles below the surface, Tian industries has built a research and drilling facility. When a so-called earthquake destroys Kepler, one part of the facility, Norah has to find her way out to survive.

Together with another survivor Rodrigo they find their captain Lucien and team up with Paul, Emily and Smith to go on a dangerous mission to escape their doom. But while they try to make it from Kepler to the Roebuck, which is bad enough, they encounter a new strange and deadly species to make things even more deadly.

Why you should watch it

The film jumps right into the chaos and starts directly with the earthquake tossing Norah into a flight for survival. This means it’s an edge of your seat film that is relentlessly thrilling. Every time you think they can take a breath, they encounter a new obstacle, an unexpected setbacks and of course the deep-sea creatures.

It’s a nature against men film, where men has to suffer great losses. Both the obstacles as their actions and reactions are very natural and organic and believable. There are no illogical plot devices to push the story forward, but it does work with some tropes that come with this kind of genre. 

The characters aren’t exactly stereotypes, but there is one of each present. Lucien a strong manly captain, Paul a jokester figure, Smith a serious man, Emily a girl who is frightened most of the time and insecure and Rodrigo the nice guy (also the black guy who dies first, which is stereotypical) and Norah a Ripley-like main character. While we don’t get to know them before all hell breaks loose, some devices are employed to get to know them in a non-death-threatening scene. 

We don’t know anything about the characters and they don’t develop asides from their survival skills and sacrificing skills, but they do come to life. A little bit of background is shown by their actions, or a stuffed bunny to depict a character trait. Also Emily starts asking them questions to distract herself while the audience gets to know a bit more about Norah and the others. It’s a smart choice to jump right into the action and to get to know them along the way, to clarify their personalities a bit more. This is important when it comes to sacrifice and the will to survive or to save others and is nicely done, without letting it get too emotional. 

The claustrophobic vibe is amplified by the shots taken from up close in Norah’s diving suit, as if we were right there with her, feeling everything she’s feeling, from devastation, to despair, hope and determination. The shots on the bottom of the sea, in the pitch dark are very disturbing and the pressure, of both the water and need for survival are tangible. 

Although it’s dark at the bottom, it’s not that dark so that barely anything is visible. Their personal lights and the beacons and the lights from the facilities give just enough light to make it scary and to see some glimpses of the creatures, before they are set loose. 

The creatures are Lovecraftian sea creatures and are beautifully created. They are truly scary and impressive and the big bad at the end is a Cthulhu incarnated. He’s big and truly a godlike being especially when he stands erect. But the humanoid creatures are elusive and veil-like with their piercing shiny eyes and are cause for some jumps scares and an overall ominous vibe. 

Underwater is a true creature feature that doesn’t come by a lot anymore. It knows how to please its audience and gives them an entertaining and thrilling ride, right at the bottom of the ocean. In its genre its a well-crafted accomplishment with an excellent execution. 

My favorite part

When Norah catches up with Emily and Smith and a lot of action has already taken place, the drama, the emotions of fear and determination really rise up, before we get treated to loads of the humanoid creatures and their terrifying attacks. Then the cosmic horror sets in resulting in a great finale. The floating humanoids, their shapes and their movements are well-crafted and create a new mythology that I wouldn’t mind to see much more of. 

The fact that Norah is not only the main character, but that she develops herself into a hero and drags Emily into heroism as well, taking care of Smith, while she thought she wasn’t strong enough is an example of natural girl power and the ending shows us that a female character is capable of what mostly is done by the manly heroes. 


Rating: ★★★★☆

Thrill factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★

Cast and crew

Underwater is directed by William Eubank and written by Brian Duffield and Adam Cozard. It stars Kristen Stewart (Norah), Vincent Cassel (Lucien), Mamoudou Athie (Rodrigo), T.J. Miller (Paul), John Gallagher Jr. (Smith) and Jessica Henwick (Emily).

Duration: 95 minutes. Music: Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts. Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli. Edited by: Brian Berdan, William Hoy, Todd E. Miller. Produced by: Peter Cherni, Tonia Davis. Jenno Topping. Production companies: Chernin Entertainment. Distributed by: 20th Century Fox. 

Check the trailer below

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