The Dive

  • 02 Sep - 08 Sep, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

If James Cameron managed to tempt us back in the water, German director Maximilian Erlenwein is determined to reverse that decision. His most recent movie, The Dive, is a survival thriller where the action is really set at the bottom of the sea, adding even more pressure to the already stressful position of being trapped under a rock. There is some tense dialogue when sisters Drew (Sophie Lowe) and May (Louisa Krause) start out on their annual diving trip, curving around cliffs in their rental car. But more sorrow lurks ahead, and beneath, for both of them. A landslip explodes the water above them after they have dove into the sea and waded through a labyrinth of trenches, trapping May under a boulder and forcing the less self-assured Drew to assist her in escaping.

The movie deftly subverts adrenaline-fuelled, frantic horror methods by placing restrictions on the characters' oxygen supplies, forcing them to calm down and relax in order to survive. An artfully crafted tension builds in this underwater endurance problem thanks to Frank Griebe's (Cloud Atlas, Run Lola Run) clever, meticulously planned cinematography, which uncovers waves of horror and hope amid utter darkness and fragments of torchlight.

The Dive eventually loses some of its narrative punch when jarring flashbacks of hazy suffering are used to stretch out the sparse story. Lazy language (such as "Don't feel guilty" and "I'm not giving up") steals from the creepy quiet, and melodramatic, swelling strings cheapen any hint of catharsis. A more assured movie, one that is confined, secluded, and menacing, is overshadowed. Even while its attempts at emotional depth ultimately come out as a touch superficial, The Dive uses its underwater setting to inject new thrills into a predictable survivalist thriller.