Streaming Releases: 12 Feet Deep (2017) Reviewed

Typically, watery survival flicks have something to do with the vast ocean and flesh eating sharks having their way with their human prey. Now, we get a new spin on the sub-genre with Matt Eskandari's Olympic pool sized thriller, 12 Feet Deep. 

Using a rather simple plot that's 'based on true events', his eighty five minute foray into the minds of two sisters facing a dire challenge is a simple but extremely effective release that uses its environment and powerful acting to their best and fullest possibilities. Considering that this movie never really steps outside the bounds of an enclosed pool other than for a few brief moments, 12 Feet Deep is a tension laced play that delivers exactly what fans of these movies want. Stress. Pain. And the fight for life. 

Based on the faltering relationship of two sisters that are  pitted against their own mortality, Nora-Jane Noone and Alexandra Park both do their best with a limited script that places them at odds with each other. The backbone of the story and the visible mental breakdown that takes place is a tangible effort that only falters due to a misguided sub-plot about a crazed employee keeping them captive below the surface of the pool's mechanical cover. If the story had been more straight laced and remained strictly about their fight to escape their accidental prison, 12 Feet Deep could have been much better. Yet, the acting is enough to keep things interesting enough. Both Park and Noone elevate the plot and pacing with believable acting fine tuned by perfect emotional delivery. Tobin Bell also makes a support appearance that's more of a cameo than anything else. 

Let's raise the roof off this place!

What really struck a chord with the film is the excellent way they pulled off the shoot. Being confined to such a small space for the majority of the movie could be annoying in lesser hands. With very little room to shoot, all the scenes that take place below the surface of the water are crystal clear, never creating that woozy feeling that we've all felt in pictures like Open Water or The Shallows. All the shots are steady despite the limits of the chosen environment. Eskandari's choices mostly hit the mark yet divisively skid out of control whenever we're thrown back to the sub-plot that gives us a loony Dianne Farr as a recently released ex-con. 

I wasn't expecting much from 12 Feet Deep. It definitely plays to some typical story threads about human endurance. However, the breakdown and interplay between the two sisters is what keeps this above water (pun fully intended). If you're a fan of horror and want to see familiar tropes spun into a new situation, I'd say check this one out. It's not going to be the biggest award winner but it's definitely worth your time. 

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