Medical research into a treatment for Alzheimer’s is underway in a science station out in the middle of the ocean. Of course, the scientists have genetically modified sharks to increase the size of their brains in order to harvest enough material of a particular protein to succeed. As one of the characters puts it: “As a result, the sharks got smarter”.
Amazingly enough, smart sharks don’t really want to hang around a scientific research lab where they are the guinea pigs and so embark on a ridiculous scheme to sink the facility and escape into the “Deep Blue Sea”.
Deep Blue Sea is one of those movies you know you shouldn’t like. It’s riddled with clichés and is kind of self-aware that it is a poorer imitation of other movies that have done sharks and ocean horror better. There’s a few moments when you might actually believe this is supposed to be a parody rather than a horror/thriller in its own right, however there are insufficient of these moments to accept that it was ever intended to be viewed in that light. So what you end up with is a mish-mash of moments that might have been tense if handled better, a few genuine jump scares, the occasionally well delivered character moment, interconnected with some really cheesy dialogue, lame special effects, and a plot that essentially makes you wonder if you haven’t seen this movie a thousand times before.
With all that said, I’ll be honest and point out I love this movie. I love terrible horror and this ticks all my boxes for a fun-filled weekend of bad horror watching. While the story is incredibly predictable and very little of the horror sticks, there’s something comforting and entertaining about formulaic cinema delivered tolerably well. And while none of the character performances are going to be nominated for any kind of award (except Samuel L Jackson who you have to wonder why he was in the movie, and the only award I’m nominating him for is most inappropriate place for delivering a monologue), none of the performances are so bad as to be painful.
Probably the weakest part of the story is the plot itself. While they try to set it up that the sharks are thinking and planning their way through this ‘escape’ very little of what they do seems sufficiently reasoned to justify this and a lot of the sharks’ ‘success’ is entirely dependent on the actions the humans take to escape and relies far too much on coincidence.
From the very beginning we see that one of the sharks has escaped and been retrieved. The shark wrangler worries about the height of the fences and so they are raised preventing further escapes. Okay, the sharks have motive. However what follows is incredibly reliant on narrative convenience. First there’s an ‘inspection’ by an investor about the progress being made. Also, it’s the weekend so almost all the staff are leaving and there won’t be another way out until after the weekend, plus a storm is coming in making rescue extremely difficult. Why is this inspection happening on the weekend? Wouldn’t he want to see the facility actually doing what it normally does?
Anyway, convenient storm and character who knows nothing allowing other characters to explain how various things around the facility works aside, we then have the demonstration of the experiment where the apparently sedated shark does this:
Apparently part of its master plan to get the humans to call for a rescue in a storm which then leads to a winch malfunctioning, dropping this guy while strapped to a gurney into the shark tank, allowing the sharks to use him to bludgeon the glass of the underwater facility and begin the process of sinking the facility. Excuse me? Run that one by me again because no matter what else happens in this plot, I am not buying this as a master plan.
Still, it wouldn’t have been a problem if the shark wrangler had shot the shark here and now, except that the crazy obsessed researcher saves the shark dropping it back into the tank. You wouldn’t want all that research to go to waste.
Oh the irony given later that is exactly what happens later when the data gets fried. Yeah, the plot is rubbish so if you are looking for a compelling storyline, pass right now. There’s no way I can recommend this story on plot.
Which is why the characters are so important. Each character in this story serves a purpose (and yes most of them serve the ultimate purpose of dying tragically or amusingly to inject some emotion into the story and to remind us it is a horror) but while they are alive they play an important role. The interactions between the characters are fairly formulaic and the dialogue is nothing revolutionary, but it moves quickly and the exchanges are entertaining. There’s some highly entertaining one-liners as well as some more forgettable moments of reflection, but all and all the characters work. The performances are decent enough with the material given to be delivered. While it is pretty obvious which characters will make it through to the final confrontation and which will survive, the timing of some of the deaths will still make for a reasonable jump scare even if you see it coming.
All that aside, it can’t be helped that a movie about killer sharks will be compared to Jaws yet there is really no point. Jaws has a slow build up and goes for sheer human drama of man vs beast. This story is really reaping what you sow and from the very beginning they bring gore and shock. Plus, they really want you to get a good look at these sharks as regularly as possible. There are few moments where they actually play with the idea of them being hidden under the water. So other than the shark thing, there’s genuinely very little similarity in the way these stories present.
My recommendation on this is pretty basic. If you like bad horror movies where the plot is obvious, character deaths will involve more blood than is necessary and will usually occur on screen in front of other characters so we can see those extremely over the top reaction shots from teh survivors, and you are in the mood for something that doesn’t seem ot be taking itself too seriously but isn’t a tongue in cheek parody, you will probably have fun with this film. I personally recommend watching it at the same time as Anaconda and Lake Placid and then you can wonder why your brain has turned to mush but you’ll have probably had a fun afternoon.
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