No help above, no hope below.

Sharks are quite possible the most terrifying creatures that live on planet earth. The mammoth fish have been a durable movie villain for decades, from Steven Spielberg’s seminal classic blockbuster Jaws to Renny Harlin’s goofy action thriller Deep Blue Sea to the realistic horrors of Open Water. Knowing that the razor-toothed monster circle the dark depths of the sea is enough to keep a lot of people from dipping their toes in the ocean. This past summer saw the release of the Blake Lively film The Shallows, which dealt with a surfer stranded on a rock surrounded by a blood-thirsty shark. In the same vein is director/writer Johannes Roberts’ (The Other Side of the Door) scuba nightmare In The Deep.

The film’s set up is simple: two young sisters, Lisa (Mandy Moore, A Walk to Remember) and Kate (Claire Holt, The Messengers 2: The Scarecrow), are on a tropical vacation when a couple of young diving guides (Santiago Segura, Scream: The Series, and Yani Gellman, Jason X) convince them to come along on a cage dive with sharks. The boat’s captain (Matthew Modine, Stranger Things) gives them brief instructions lowers the cage. When the cable to the wince snaps, the shark cage plunges to the bottom of the ocean, 47 meters below the surface. Trapped with limited air and man-eating predators all around them, the girls must figure out a way to get themselves out of the cage and back to the surface.

My expectations for In the Deep was as a cheesy C-level shark movie along the lines of Sharknado. What I got was an intense and terrifying movie that dwells in claustrophobia and plays with your senses. In the Deep is one of the rare and special movies that I had zero expectations for and it nearly shattered the roof. Thus far this has been one of the coolest and most interesting movies of 2016.

Although In the Deep is clearly a low(er) budget affair, the filmmakers have stretched their resources to create a superior cat and mouse game with divers and sharks. For anyone who has gone scuba diving, you already know that while the oceans can be filled with beauty they can also be treacherous and terrifying. The film does a wonderfully atmospheric job of making the dark, inky waters of the sea an ominous character in its own right.

The actors are all exceptional in their roles, though there isn’t lot to their characters besides lamenting broken relationships and acting terrified at what may lurk below. Pop star Mandy Moore and Claire Holt – this is really their show – are sufficiently terrified through most of the film. The women to a commendable job considering most of their performance is seen through cumbersome breathing apparatus. The only other main actor in the film is Matthew Modine, whose heard more often than he’s seen.

Some killer shark movies are played for either pure fun, for action, or just for cheeseball jump scares. In the Deep wants none of that. The film doesn’t overload the movie with sharks but instead keeps them hidden until just the right moment. While I’m sure most of them are CGI, I was impressed with how realistic they looked. The moments where the sharks show up is genuinely terrifying; the tension created through the last half of the film is palpable. The only misstep it makes is found in the ending, which should have concluded once the viewer sees daylight (you’ll know it when you see it). Otherwise, In the Deep is one of the best horror films of the year.

In the Deep (DVD) is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Anchor Bay’s work on this title is very nice, with predominant blues and blacks surrounding the viewer. The film’s cinematography is beautiful, and I have the sneaking suspicion it will look even more impressive on Blu-ray. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. This is a very engaging, enthralling sound mix that sports a lot of directional effects and surround sounds. The score by Tomandandy is often pulse-pounding, haunting, and perfectly synced to the terror. Also included are Spanish subtitles.

There are no bonus features.

In the Deep is one of the scariest movies about the ocean I’ve ever seen. Full disclosure: rumor has it the film has been purchased by another studio and is being prepped for a 2017 theatrical release. The DVD has been recalled and pulled from the market, so this disc is going to be especially difficult to find for quite a while.

The Verdict
A sink or swim affair

buynowamz

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In the Deep (DVD), Anchor Bay, 89 min, 2016, Not Rated

A/V: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen /  Dolby 5.1 Surround (English)

SUBTITLES: Spanish

Extras: None

Accomplices: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2932536

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