LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 7: Kristen Stewart attends the special fan screening of 20th Century Fox’s ‘Underwater’ at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on January 7, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
After the success of Twilight and the scandal that accompanied the saga through the relationship and personal breakup of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the actress moved away from big productions and polished her independent film talent. Time passed and, little by little, she was returning to the commercial universe thanks to movies like Charlie’s Angels. However, despite maintaining an extremely active career (releasing two films a year) and having had a legion of fans during her days as a romantic heroine, some of her work has gone unfairly unnoticed. As is the case with a science fiction film available on Star+ that deserved (and deserves) our full attention.
By now we know very well how much the COVID-19 pandemic affected Hollywood. Not only because of the delays in the release schedule or for putting movie theaters in check through direct releases on platforms, but also because many films were left in no man’s land due to the closure of exhibition venues and the frightened of viewers due to the fear of the coronavirus. Streaming then gave them a second chance to view them, but, without a good premiere on the big screen that would help increase their prestige and without word of mouth to expand interest among the public, it was difficult to attract attention in a market so saturated with content.
For this reason, there are great titles that I think went largely unnoticed and deserved much more attention, like this claustrophobic underwater horror movie with Kristen Stewart. I mean Menace from the Deep, a film that hit theaters between January and February 2020. and whose box office results were disastrous. In the United States, he closed his commercial career with just 17.2 million dollars, while in Latin American countries like Mexico he settled for only $2.4 million or a terrible $84,869 in Argentina. Its global total only reached $40 million, which against a budget estimated to be around $65 million, became one of the many cinematic disasters that 2020 brought with it.
It was an almost cursed film from its conception, which dates back to 2017. The announcement of the project and the development of the shooting, which was carried out by 20th Century Fox, took place throughout said year, but when in 2018 the purchase of Fox by Disney began to be formalized, the release plans were left in limbo. Three years later, the mouse company finally released it, but without a clear strategy on the medium-budget cinema that Fox brought with it, its marketing campaign was rather weak, which, added to the outbreak of the pandemic, doomed to the irrelevance of the tape. It must also be said that the criticism did not help, but, honestly, I think it is one of the most outstanding horror titles of recent years, especially because of how it used references from classic horror and science films -fiction to build a really overwhelming and shocking underwater universe.
And it is that Menace in the depths resorted to the best of claustrophobia and the action of Alien in a plot that drank directly from James Cameron’s Abyss, with very Lovecraftian creatures sowing a wave of horror at an underwater facility. In fact, Kristen Stewart’s character was a perfect reincarnation of Lieutenant Ripley, an up-and-coming heroine terrified of facing an otherworldly threat in a claustrophobic and hostile environment, the null chances of survival or the many setbacks that arise in her odyssey, do not prevent her from giving the best of herself.
In addition, Stewart was splendid defending the character, a detail that is not surprising considering that it was his return to the genre in which he took his first steps in Hollywood with Panic Room, The House or The Messengers. On the other hand, in technical matters, Threat in the depths was also an exhibition of claw and pulse behind the cameras, with a truly distressing execution that played very well with the oppressive spaces of that submarine station on the verge of collapse, the first-person horror of its protagonist or with its gloomy setting where fearsome creatures lurked when one least expected it.
Personally, I lived a really tense experience in the movie theater, giving me the occasional shock, experiencing moments of pure nerve and even going so far as to cover my eyes in moments of pure terror. I think that it is a film very designed to be enjoyed in the largest possible movie screen and with a good sound system, which is why it is even more angry that due to the pandemic, bad marketing or its weak critical reception it went so unnoticed. And the worst thing is that there have not been many voices claiming it in its second life in streaming, which is really unfair given that it is such an intense horror and science fiction experience that draws on classics of the genre adored by all. It is true that it languished in its plot and character development, which went to the background to prioritize its action and anguish, but I don’t think this prevents it from being a very remarkable film.
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