Directed by: Gerald Rascionato
Cast: Joel Hogan, Josh Potthoff, Megan Peta Hill
On one hand, it’s cool to see another decent shark franchise continue to grow with a third installment. On the other, it’s pretty lame that Lionsgate took a solid little indie aqua piece and slapped an ‘Open Water’ in front of the title to try and siphon a few additional bucks from naive fans. The movie is unique enough that it could find some traction of its own on its own merit, exclusively. I think more people may be likely to steer clear of the film now, seeing a number three and assuming a plunge in quality, as franchises often experience by the third installment, or even detecting what seems to be the case: that Lionsgate took a solid little indie aqua piece and slapped an ‘Open Water’ in front of the title to try and siphon a few additional bucks from fans. Either way, I don’t think it was the right maneuver, unfortunately.
If I weren’t trying to maintain an informative site with up-to-date news and reviews, I never would have touched this film, and it’s not because it’s a shark film. It’s not because it’s a found footage film. It’s because it’s “Open Water 3” and personally, I’d rather see Cage Dive than Open Water 3, any day of the week. In fact, I actually like the idea of a found footage shark flick. That’s one of those things that – aside from all the craziness we see during Shark Week – feels unorthodox on a magnetic level. To my knowledge, just running through my mind briefly, I can’t recall ever seeing a found footage shark flick. How you find difficulty in marketing that without borrowing an established title – during summer, of all possible times of the year – is beyond me.
I’m ranting, aren’t I?
Okay, crappy attitude aside, judgement of the title aside, I really did find some entertainment value in this one. As simple as the idea is, even with Shark Week being an annual sensation of sorts, I don’t think the idea of mixing sharks and found footage ever occurred to me. So, kudos to Gerald Rascionato, who writes and directs the film – you came up with a cool idea that I can really respect.
As is the case with all found footage, there are problems with regard to justifying filming every second of a terrifying and potentially fatal ordeal (especially when having all four limbs to tread water seems pretty paramount). That’s an angle of the sub-genre that will probably always be a problem. Outside of that problem, Cage Dive really doesn’t have too much dead weight dragging it down. The script, and idea behind what eventually becomes the conflict (being trapped in the ocean with sharks… obviously), are both what I’d call solid. The characters themselves are fleshed out and ultimately humanized by a twist most won’t see coming; we may not like a character or so after the twist comes to light, but it does successfully remind viewers that these are imperfect, believable personalities with all sorts of varying idiosyncrasies. Human beings tend to be more compelling than scripted “characters” and Rascionato understands that.
So, we can get onboard with the concept, and the conflict, and we can invest something in the characters. Technically, the movie is about as crisp as one would expect, given the fact that we know we’re going to be dealing with a camera that spends as much time submerged in water (meaning the sound in particular will get sketchy from time to time) as dry as a bone. The shark attacks look impressive outside of a few shock moments that don’t look entirely natural, but even those moments are minimal, so visually, we’re still in decent standing, here.
If I’m going to complain about anything, it may be the simple fact that the movie could have been far more savage than it was. However, that may have left us treading some cheese-filled waters, so I’m not too bummed that the outrageousness that could have been exploited wasn’t. I didn’t care for a couple of characters, but that was a result of designed decision making, not performance quality. I think the primary trio in the film offer up relatively refined performances; they’re certainly more polished than a great number of performers I’ve seen featured in this sub-genre.
If you like shark movies, you’ll probably get a kick out of Cage Dive. Whether you’re a huge fan of found footage or not, you may also hold a little respect for the originality of the core idea. With both 47 Meters Down and The Shallows winning fans over recently, it’s a fine time to see Cage Dive arrive on the market. Horror fans are chewing through shark material (come on now, we’re five Sharknado’s deep) on a more frequent basis as of late, and the more sound shark-fare we’ve got, the better. With the title it’s been branded, it’s got the cards stacked against it, and it certainly hasn’t received the promotional push it deserves, but Cage Dive has a surprisingly strong pulse, and fans of aquatic horror would be wise to give it a chance.