Shot by Shot with the ‘Underwater’ Trailer

Terror lurks in every nook and cranny on the planet. We should not fear space or how many xenomorphs will hear our screams up there. With populations growing, climates changing, and governments enjoying the bliss of ignorance, Earth is the ultimate realm of dread, and we should fear the monsters it has yet to birth into our daily experience.

After nearly a six-year absence, director William Eubank (The Signal, 2014) returns to cinemas with another creepy blend of genres. Underwater stars Kristen Stewart as a crew-member of a privatized oceanic laboratory. While plumbing the dark depths that they should have left alone, an entity is unleashed to run amok among them. The challenge will be surviving each other’s personalities as much as avoiding the toothy maw swimming their way.

Removing broken people from society and forcing them to fend off toothy beasts is crack to most movie maniacs. In The Signal, Eubank proved that he could do a lot with very little. The joys of a single location haunt are the ways in which the filmmaker takes advantage of the confines. Breaking down the trailer shot by shot, it’s clear that the director is in his element, delighting in the shadows and the brief glimpses of the unknown threat. Let’s dig in, discern a few influences, and appreciate the pace in which T.J. Miller is dispatched from the plot.

Five thousand miles from land, a rig sits in the middle of nothing. She is but the tip of an iceberg. Seven miles below, a massive network of machines drills into the surface of the Earth. While nearly 200 similar structures sit off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the operation we see in the opening shot is possibly thirsting for an entirely different natural resource. One they will regret to discover.

Kristen Stewart is Norah, the Ellen Ripley of the bunch. Despite her introductory appearance here, it looks like she’s already run afoul of the sea monster shenanigans that come up later in the trailer. We don’t know where her command rests among the crew, but it won’t matter as the meat around her starts to get munched as the run-time races to its endpoint.

“See you all in a month…” Below the ocean’s surface, our isolated crew is established as fodder for the Old Dark House battleground we’ve previously seen mashed against sci-fi in Ridley Scott’s Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing. There are not grand heroes fighting the good fight for science. They’re blue-collar jobbers looking to get paid.

“Here we go…” T.J. Miller is Paul, the obnoxiously comedic sidekick begging to die first. We’ll get our wish before trailer’s end. Despite the upbeat Motown needle drop, he appears a little worse for wear. Is he sporting a kimono? Hard to tell, but it’s ripped, tattered, and spread open revealing a sprawling chest/belly tattoo that says all you need to know about the character. Like Stewart, he’s got a few cuts around his head indicating a minor skirmish.

This shot of Mamoudou Athie comes from a different scene in the film. His smile is not a response to T.J. Miller’s musical choice, but to that of an off-screen character as they’re strapped into diving gear and lowered deep into the drink.

Jessica Henwick is also in another part of the rig, laughing along as a pal pumps iron in the rec room. The Temptations tell us to “Get Ready” and not become attached to anyone… including Stewart.


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Brad Gullickson: @@MouthDork Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.