Murk. Gloom. Inky darkness. With bubbles.
We’re 7 miles in the depths of the sea in “Underwater” and it’s hard to see.
Squint. Huh? “There are things out there,” a character quavers.
Don’t turn on the lights. You don’t want to see. Really, you don’t.
But they do, of course. And what’s seen — and heard — are panicked people running and screaming, crawling and gasping as water gushes into a fatally damaged undersea mining complex.
Thrashing in the murk outside are things with fangs and tentacles and really bad tempers.
Oh, and one further thing. At the very end, there are women parading about in scanty underwear.
You remember “Alien”? Sure you do. What do you remember? That thing bursting out of John Hurt’s chest. Right. And what else? Yep. At the end, Sigourney Weaver in her skimpies getting face time with … it.
In the picture’s press notes, the makers of “Underwater” readily acknowledge they were influenced by “Alien.” So, Kristen Stewart and co-star Jessica Henwick: On your mark, get set, peel.
The first creature feature of the new decade is here, and boy is it dumb.
How dumb? Well, it makes a big deal of emphasizing that 7-miles-below-the-surface plot point. And way down in the Stygian depths it turns out that the only hope the characters have of not getting killed in their doomed complex is to — stay with me now —walk to a nearby slightly less-damaged drilling facility. Walk, in special diving suits. Which, one can’t help noticing, look a lot like the spacesuits in “Alien.”
Yes, well, no. If that were possible, people would be clomping all over the deck of the Titanic, which is only 2 miles down, rather than descending to it in specialized high-tech submarines. In real life, if anyone tried such a stroll 7 miles beneath the waves, they’d be squished. Like bugs.
So the whole premise of “Underwater” is ridiculous.
The characters, technicians staffing the facility, are barely defined. One (Vincent Cassel) has a beard. He’s French. Another (T.J. Miller) has a stuffed toy bunny. He’s kind of a jerky wise guy. Stewart looks grim. As for Henwick, I’d say she got her part owing to her ability to scream. Shrill, she is.
One by one, characters meet their screamy fates. Tentacles lash. Fangs chomp.
“We’re not supposed to be down here,” Ms. Screamer bleats.
You’ve got that right. We in the audience don’t want to be down here with you either.
★ “Underwater” with Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr., Mamoudou Athie, T.J. Miller. Directed by William Eubank, from a screenplay by Brian Duffield and Adam Cozad. 94 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and terror, and brief strong language. Opens Jan. 10 at multiple theaters.