Listening to the audio commentary to Underwater, you can hear director William Eubank gush about the set design, the costumes, the creature effects, the title sequence, and so on, and you realize it’s about all that and not the story and characters. Any time you take your eye off the story and characters, you’re in trouble.
Underwater, out now from 20th Century Home Entertainment, is a complete misfire of a horror thriller, effectively remaking Alien and setting it under the sea. It wastes an engaging enough cast anchored by Kristen Stewart, looking as fetching in her underwear as Sigourney Weaver did, and never builds enough original suspense to be worth sitting through.
She plays Norah, a mechanical engineer deep down in a corporate mining facility and of course, the corporation has ignored warnings of strange sightings, leaving the small crew vulnerable. So of course, things go wrong, one after the other, and the crew is winnowed until its just her and Jessica Henwick versus the sea creatures.
Ho hum. You know what’s coming, you don’t care when it arrives, and know how it’s going to end so you’re watching out of sluggishness, not interest.
There’re sparks of interest here and there, mostly why you remain rooted in your seat, hoping for better. The crew is led by Vincent Cassel and his French accent, complete with the always watchable T. J. Miller, and rounded out with John Gallagher Jr., Mamoudou Athie, Gunner Wright. Whatever is revealed about the characters is just enough, in the Eubanks’ mind, as he wants to keep moving the story forward, forgetting we need to be invested in the characters. One of the extended scenes visually reveals things about the crew which begs for more but it’s cut, he says, to keep the story going.
If only the story had a direction that was fresh, new, and compelling. Blame goes to the script by Brian Duffield and Adam Cozad and Producers Peter Chernin, Tonia Davis, Jenno Topping who have all produced far better stories and should know better.
Stewart is an interesting actor to watch, but her film choices leave you wondering. What attracted her to such a flimsy story? It’s a waste of her skills. And while it’s always nice to see Henwick get work, she needs meatier roles.
The movie could not be reviewed on disc due to the Covid-19 protocols and was watched digitally. On MoviesAnywhere.com, the high definition edition looks good, capturing the subtle shades of the murky sea, the grubby interiors, and so on. The audio track sounds fine on a computer and a soundbar. The digital edition also comes with the Special Features you will also find on disc.
There are extended or deleted scenes, with and without commentary by Eubank, Associate Producer Jared Purrington, and Phil Gawthorne. — Call the Mover Extended Scene (1:30); Crew Suit Up Extended (1:44); Gantry Exit Extended (2:30), Baby Clinger Extended (1:35); Midway Station Extended (1:43); Ocean Floor Walk Extended (5:35); Rock Garden (:48); and Smith Departure Extended (1:01).
The trio can also optionally be heard on Alternate Ending (2:55), Real Bunny Montage (3:25); Making Underwater, in three parts: Design (17:54), Production (19:50), and Creatures & Visual Effects (19:56); Audio Commentary with Eubank, Purrington, and Gawthorne.