DIRECTOR: Matt Eskandari
Christian Kane Blackburn
Jonna and Bree are two sisters who while taking a swim at their local indoor pool, get trapped when the owner closes up the pool for the long weekend. The two sisters end up getting stuck inside the pool while trying to retrieve a wedding ring from the drain. The fibreglass pool cover traps them in the water, but with the temperature dropping fast and Bree suffering from Diabetes, this isn't the only problem that the two sisters face when a sadistic employee also plans on making their lives a living hell.
In 12 Feet Deep, we have another movie that gives us a story that is set prominently in a singular location. This time around, instead of being simply confined to a phone booth, room, hotel room, coffin or on a chairlift while in below zero temperatures we are trapped with two sisters who have been locked beneath a fibreglass cover in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. This seems pretty relaxed compared to a lot of those other films that have tried to use this single location as a way of creating unease and tension.
Once I had finished with this movie, I found a lot of problems with it all. With 12 Feet Deep, the setting is not the problem here. I'm happy to sit and watch a movie where two people are trapped in an Olympic pool for an hour and a half. It's everything else that takes place in the movie that really left me cold to this film. I found that I didn't connect to anything or anyone and this was immediate from the first scene. This just wasn't a fun experience at all.
The biggest problem with this movie is the characters. Not one single character here is likeable. We have two sisters who spend the entire story bickering and fighting. I get that the situation that they have both been put into causes them both to stress and tensions set in. But the number of problems these two sisters have, I was left wondering how these two even stay in contact with each other. Their relationship is riddled with jealousy and the number of secrets that arise from their arguing made me question why they even bothered trying to stay friendly. I'd have cut contact with my sibling if they were this messy.
The other two characters come in the form of the rude pool owner who is played by Tobin Bell who is Jigsaw from the SAW films. His brief scene doesn't give him much other than playing a cold and emotionless character who appears as the first villain-like character. The second character is the pool cleaner. She's a parolee and a thief. She's the one that is the film's villain. She is sadistic and basically tortures the two sisters. One of the sisters continues to talk down to her and scream obscenities that do nothing to help the sisters escape. It's just really annoying after the second time, and it happens for the entire film.
The film also tries to throw in ways that these sisters try to escape their predicament. The way they end up trying to escape is one of the most frustrating things in this film. The sisters wait right until the very end to try something that they originally try at the very beginning of the movie. Instead of sticking with it, they give up and argue for an hour and a half and when something is revealed about one of the sister's concerning her health, only then do they try to repeat the same thing, and it's just all too easy. The ending of the film also just ends, and the evilest person in the movie gets away. It's all very frustrating.
Visually, I think that 12 Feet Deep looks excellent. For a movie that is set in a pool for most of its running time, it has a lot of neat visual tricks up its sleeve. We have a lot of slow-motion shots of people swimming, gorgeous tracking shots and some really beautiful underwater takes. These are the things that I found most appealing about 12 Feet Deep. The rest left me somewhat cold. It doesn't help that a lot of the film is drenched in dark tones and the film is drained of all colour besides blue.
On a scary level, I think all the tension is completely removed due to how poor all of these character decisions and actions are in the film. The characters spend so much time bickering, arguing, swearing and fighting with each other. The movie just loses all steam as well as tension because every single time a scene that requires it starts, the characters scream and complain all the way through it. It just was overshadowed by everything else happening in the film.
Lastly, the acting is terrible. Really sad for a movie that features Tobin Bell but he is only in the film for two minutes. Nora-Jane Noone from The Descent plays one of the sisters and is the least problematic of the four characters in the film. She delivers the best performance, but that's not saying much at all with this one. It's Alexandra Park and Diane Farr who are the two characters who spend most of the film arguing. One is the screw-up sister who causes all the problems, and Diane Farr plays an angry ex-con who likes a bit of sadistic torture.
DEATH TOLL: 0
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is stabbed in the ear with a piece of plastic.
- A woman slices her arm on fibreglass.
12 Feet Deep is a movie that uses its singular location as the setup. While the movie has a lot of visual flourishes that make the film look above average on a visual level. I sadly feel everything else fell short for me. We have poorly written characters who all have underlying problems that spend most of the film arguing and bickering at each other. The movie keeps repeating the same things over again, and we have a villain who tries to play sympathetic, but she's just as bad as the sisters and the nasty pool owner. This movie is not an enjoyable one. A complete mess.