Underwater is Kristen Stewart’s first jump into a film labeled “horror”, not to be confused with some of her early work that has been labeled, by many, “horrific.”
One barely has time to settle in before the action starts with a bang. Kristen Stewart is Norah Price, a mechanical engineer on Kepler 822, a research and drilling facility located at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest ocean trench on Earth.
Norah has just finished cleaning up from a day’s work when the unthinkable happens. An earthquake in the trench. She is able to make her way to the facility’s escape pods with Rodrigo and Paul but when they arrive, all the escape pods are gone. What they do find is the facilities captain, Captain Lucien.
Needing a plan, the group makes their way to the control room where they find two more crew members, Emily, a biologist, and Liam, an engineer. Now, if you are thinking these bodies are all coming together so they can be picked off one by one in some gruesome fashion, you’d be right on the money.
With no other choice, Captain Lucien suggests (strongly) that they all get into pressurized suits and make the jaunt to Roebuck 641, the main hub of the underwater grave, er facility, which happens to be a short one-mile ocean floor jaunt away. If claustrophobia hasn’t hit you as the action is being played out, it will surely tickle your spine when the crew climbs into their suits.
As the crew begins, and before they can even make it to the ocean floor, the first body goes. A defective helmet, caused by the earthquake, is the culprit, causing the unfortunate crew member’s helmet to implode.
The crew must take a freight elevator down to reach the ocean floor and, on their descent, they notice a distress beacon. Paul and Smith go check it out, finding a body in the facility’s rubble. While inspecting the body, shades of Alien arise as a creature emerges from the dead body’s back. Smith is able to kill the creature, taking it back to the group.
The group returns to the inside of the broken-down facility where the creature is examined. Emily determines that the creature belongs to a species never before seen.
The crew finally hits the ocean floor, determined to make the one-mile hike to freedom. But the bottom of the ocean holds more of what they were prepared for. More creatures arrive, taking Paul. The creatures aren’t the only peril the crew faces as damaged equipment threatens to do further harm.
Another creature attack finds Price on her own in an abandoned station. While changing her damaged suit into something more comfortable, and safe, Price happens upon a map of the old drilling site, with a pentagram drawn on it.
Price returns to her trek to Roebuck, where she also finds Emily and Smith. They also find more terror than they can ever imagine as the source of the creatures is revealed.
Underwater, while incorporating many familiar horror tropes, accomplishes what it set out to do – provide an effective story, lace it with some nice jump scares, and toss in some wonderful gore with a whole lot of claustrophobia.
The film, directed by William Eubank from a script by Brian Duffield and Adam Cozad was the last film produced by 20th Century Fox before its sale to Disney. As the purchase was going through, many film’s release dates were affected, Underwater among those.
Production on the Kristen Stewart film was completed in mid-2017 but the film was released nearly three years later. To make matters worse for the film, it was a January release (a filmmaker’s graveyard) and it came out during the COVID pandemic. So, box office numbers, as you can expect, were less than robust.
Whether it be her lack of star charisma or her selection of material, Kristen Stewart continues to be an enigma on the big screen. Her career was in overdrive during her Twilight days, allowing her to gain the title of world’s highest-paid actress in 2012. The Twilight Saga has brought in over $3.34 billion worldwide.
And it’s not as if some of Kristen Stewart’s projects don’t resonate. She’s won a BAFTA, she’s been nominated for a Screen Actor’s Award, and Stewart is the only American actress to ever win the coveted César Award for her role in Clouds of Sils Maria.
Along with Underwater, Kristen Stewart has been seen most recently in Lizzie, Seberg, the Charlie’s Angels reboot, and Happiest Season. Up next for Stewart will be her much-anticipated portrayal of Princess Diana in Spencer. She plans to follow that up with Crimes of the Future.
Kristen Stewart can be seen in Underwater on Hulu.