Released on the 9th of October, courtesy of Lionsgate films comes a POV shark attack movie which merges some good characterisation and a unique perspective on shark invested violence in one neat 80-minute package.
Synopsis: In this intense thriller, three friends from California head to the rugged Australian coast for a cage-dive encounter with deadly great white sharks. But after attracting a swarm of vicious sharks, their tour boat is destroyed by a massive rogue wave.
As clouds gather and darkness descends, the three friends fine themselves alone and defenceless, afloat in the chilly ocean as hungry man-eaters begin to circle. With little hope of rescue, they must fight to survive using only their courage.
It would appear from internet press, and by that I unashamedly mean IMDB, that this is part of the ‘Open Water’ franchise, the third in the series. It is, however, marketed in the UK only as ‘Cage Dive’. Filmed from the groups perspective the film gets off to a good start, introducing our three ill-fated friends through what can aptly be described as a 30 minute party montage! They are a likable bunch, who, despite some rather silly decisions later in the film – one involving a flare inside a life raft (doh!)– you are sure to relate to in some way.
Hoping to film their shark cage dive as part of their audition for an extreme reality show, most of the shenanigans in the lead up to the dive, involve them being young, cool and enjoying Australia’s vibrant beach scene, so the scene setting part of the film is more entertaining than profound. Despite this you begin to build a report with the group, and some of their relatives who are providing testimony to the footage as the film progressed. Indeed, what I liked most about the characters was that, rather subtly, they each had their own interesting secrets and quirks which were hinted at throughout the footage, but only really become significant in the turning points in the later part of the film. To that end, whilst the testimonies of the ‘grieving’ family members were not exactly believable, there was a part towards the end of the film where I felt like I wanted the group to survive.
Normally, in found footage movies the constant shrieking and shaky cam makes me glad for the demise of all those concerned, not here though, I genuinely felt that the group were hard done by!
The shark attack footage was equally entertaining. With some rather dodgy special effects early on, namely the rather quick non-event that was the tidal surge which capsized the boat and kickstarted the perilous swim, I was worried that I was going to be short changed. Thinking back, I am not sure what I was expecting, but I felt the attack sequences were, by and large, well put together. There is enough blood to keep you satiated, but not so much carnage (or silly CGI giant sharks), that the whole affair became a farce. Most of what you get is some thrashing about, enter shark, big watery explosion of blood (I mean what else could there be), but I think you will enjoy some of the interesting camera work in such scenes – for example the camera ending up inside a shark’s mouth at one point. An effort was notably made to make the limited scope for violence seem fresh.
The threat is very much present, and despite the occasional continuity issue, the POV coupled with the vastness of the ocean gave you a feeling of the helplessness of the group; the night time scenes in-particular not only gave an interesting perspective to an otherwise monotonous backdrop, but actually gave the action a somewhat claustrophobic feel; a nice contrast to the agoraphobic feel of the open water. Whilst the action isn’t set to ‘full-auto’ there is enough tension to keep you interested.
Overall, whilst it isn’t exactly going to make horror movie of the year, I found ‘Cage Dive’ an enjoyable watch and if you are in the market for either a Found Footage POV horror or a creature feature then you won’t be disappointed.