This is a surprisingly effective shark-in-the-dark thriller about two sisters (Mandy Moore, Claire Holt) trapped in a dive cage. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.

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We’re going to need a bigger cage.

The “Jaws” jokes write themselves with “47 Meters Down,” a surprisingly effective shark-in-the-dark thriller that makes for frighteningly fun summer escapism. Horror director Johannes Roberts (“The Other Side of the Door”) knows what the audience wants in a film like this — two sisters trapped in a dive cage surrounded by sharks — and gives it to them, straight no chaser.

Appropriately, he wastes little time on exposition. Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt, “The Vampire Diaries”) are two Americans on vacation on the Mexican coast. Uptight Lisa is trying to deal with a bad breakup, inspiring her younger sister Kate to take her out on the town to drown her romantic sorrows.

Movie Review ★★½  

‘47 Meters Down,’ with Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine, Santiago Segura, Yani Gellman. Directed by Johannes Roberts, from a screenplay by Roberts and Ernest Riera. 89 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense peril, bloody images, and brief strong language. Several theaters.


That’s where they meet two good-natured, good-looking locals — Benjamin (Santiago Segura) and Louis (Yani Gellman) — who convince them that they need to dive with sharks to make their trip really memorable. These guys just happen to know a boat captain who, for a little cash, will take them out to the right spot.

Lisa is reluctant, but Kate is totally up for hopping on a sketchy boat run by a scraggly expat American (Matthew Modine) with two random dudes they just met while dancing and wearing beer goggles.

Guess they didn’t see last summer’s shark movie, “The Shallows,” because before you can say “shark week,” Lisa and Kate are in a cage underwater marveling at the beauty of all the fish. Just when Lisa is starting to think her fears are unjustified, a mechanical mishap sends the metal box plunging into the depths.

Working from a script he wrote with Ernest Riera, Roberts keeps ramping up the tension and it mostly works, even when a plot device or two might seem to contradict common sense.

On top of that, “47 Meters Down” is a technical marvel. The first film to be shot at the 60,546-square-foot water tank at the Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios, it absolutely makes members of the audience feel like they’re at the bottom of the ink-black ocean with Lisa and Kate. And the sharks look real and really hungry.