‘Underwater’ parallels old-school space movie ‘Alien’

Written By Jared Murphy, News Photo Editor

20th Century Fox’s new blockbuster “Underwater” did not dazzle critics or moviegoers, but its protagonist makes watching the subaquatic adventure worth it.

“Underwater” is a horror movie that takes place on a drilling rig seven miles beneath the ocean’s surface in the Marina Trench. Starring Kristen Stewart as protagonist Norah Price and T.J. Miller as the male lead Paul, the film starts as an earthquake hits an underwater laboratory, which starts to destroy the station. The crew springs into action trying to save themselves and escape, only to find out they’re not alone down there.

The crew thinks only an earthquake hits the trench but soon finds out there’s more than just themselves in the trench. Deep-sea creatures slowly start picking off the crew one by one. In the beginning of the movie, the rig the crew is on is destroyed, and they’re forced to make it to the Roebuck Station. As they try to travel from one drilling rig to the Roebuck Station, the crew has to travel across the desolate, pitch-black trench floor, something none of them dared to do before.

“Underwater” has uncanny parallels to “Alien” (1979). More or less, this movie is a modern version of “Alien,” with the exception that “Underwater” takes place in the ocean instead of outer space. Both films feature a strong female lead, and Stewart as Norah Price does a phenomenal job in “Underwater”.

Norah Price is the strong-willed, quick-thinking female lead often seen in horror movies, such as Erin in “You’re Next” (2011) or Clarice Starling in “Silence of the Lambs” (1991). Norah’s smart decision-making helps her make it to the end of the movie, almost.

“Underwater” does a great job of keeping monster movies alive. Up until the ending of the movie, the audience only catches glimpses of the creatures terrorizing the crew, which forces us to use our imagination, making the creatures even scarier. From the rare sightings of the creatures throughout the film, I was expecting all of them to closely resemble the alien from “Alien,” and I was pleasantly surprised when the big monster was revealed and had an original concept.

The most interesting part of “Underwater” was its underlying environmental message. When things start to go astray, the crew starts to wonder if this is all happening because of the drilling. The crew starts to wonder if Mother Nature is fighting back against the drilling. There’s also mention of the water temperature rising, a subtle nod to the effects of climate change.

“Underwater” flopped at the box office. On opening weekend, the movie did $14 million worldwide, which seems pretty good for a horror movie—until it’s noted that “Underwater” had a $50 million dollar budget and only made around $7 million in its opening weekend.

“Underwater” doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, but has enough action to keep an audience entertained. The homage to “Alien” and the strong female lead by Stewart is enough for any science fiction or horror fan to enjoy.