Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Deep Blue Sea
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers, Wayne Powers
Cast: Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, Samuel L. Jackson, Jacqueline McKenzie, Michael Rapaport, Stellan Skarsgård, LL Cool J, Aida Turturro
Seen on: 22.5.2021

Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) and her team have been working on a cure to Alzheimer’s by experimenting on sharks. But after one of their sharks escaped from the research facility, attacked a ship and fortunately got brough back in by shark wrangler Carter (Thomas Jane) before anybody died, Susan is in trouble with the company that funds her research. She promises quick results and the company owner Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) wants to pay their research facility a visit. But once they start their final test, everything goes to hell.

I am reasonably certain that I watched Deep Blue Sea already at some point, but I don’t actually have any memory of seeing it before, so I’m not labeling this a re-watch. If I had remembered, I probably wouldn’t have watched it again. While it does have some nice moments, for the most part it’s pretty cringey.

The film poster showing a shark with his mouth open wide behind Susan (Saffron Burrows), up to her breast in water.

Deep Blue Sea strike a rather strange tone, trying to be both scary and funny and ultimately not succeeding with either. It’s not impossible to combine those two things, but it is pretty damn hard – most horror comedies aren’t scary, most scary horrors aren’t funny. If films try to have both, they usually choose one overall mood (scary of funny) and then have moments to pierce that mood. Deep Blue Sea tries to be both all the time and that is a recipe for disaster.

I will give the film that it has some actually funny moments (LL Cool J’s omelette line had me cracking up), but a lot of the time the film tries very hard to be funny, but doesn’t quite make it. Either the lines feel a little forced, or the cast just isn’t up to it, or both. And sometimes I wasn’t sure whether what we just saw was meant to be funny at all or just accidentally so.

Carter (Thomas Jane) aiming a harpoon at a shark.

And really, the same is true for the horror bits. It was all super predictable and we barely get time to build any kind of emotional connection to the characters. And if we don’t fear for the characters’ safety because we just don’t give a damn about them, it’s that much harder for the film to become scary at all. (Also, I wanted to feed Carter to the sharks, just because I found it so annoying that the white super-masculine dude is the only one with the power to save everybody else. Yawn.)

Overall, I just didn’t find Deep Blue Sea charming, like I hoped I would. If I want shark action in the future, I think I’d rather stick with Jaws or Sharknado.

Jim's (Stellan Skarsgård) arm getting chewed off by a shark.

Summarizing: oh well.

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