The Dive review: a tense underwater thriller

The Dive.
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The Dive follows two sisters as they go diving together in an isolated place, and things start to go very wrong – here’s our review.

If you like the kind of thrillers that make you feel you need to hold your breath in solidarity with imperilled protagonists, look no further than The Dive. A tight, 90-minute survival thriller, it takes the inherent claustrophobia of films like The Descent and asks: what if it was underwater, too? Directed by Maximilian Erlenwein and co-written by him and Joachim Hedén, this film is an English-language remake of Hedén’s Swedish thriller Breaking Surface, and it’s a tense and well shot movie.

Leads Sophie Lowe and Louisa Kraus have to carry the entire film between the two of them, as sisters Drew and May go diving in a remote location with absolutely no one else around. As they drive to the dive location, there’s a distance between them that’s evident in the dialogue. It’s a little bit of an exposition dump, but it efficiently reveals that there’s a rift between the pair – one that’s further explored and explained throughout The Dive.

The duo explore some underwater caves, but disaster strikes in the form of a rockfall that leaves May trapped. Her oxygen is limited, and with no prospect of help on the horizon she sends Drew to the surface with the instructions to come back with more oxygen tanks and a carjack to shift the rocks – within 20 minutes – or she’ll drown.

As Drew does everything in her power to save May, it’s clear that this is an Uncut Gems situation. Everything that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong. Drew has to resort to a lot of improvisation in these scenes, and there are some interesting twists and turns to her search for solutions. This is very much needed, as The Dive is the kind of film where you have a reasonably good idea of what the ending will be, and therefore the excitement and suspense of the journey is very important. It doesn’t disappoint.

With May stuck in the caves, it’s often up to Sophie Lowe to carry the movie on her own, and that’s something she’s very good at. Drew starts out as an enthusiastic character, and once that enthusiasm turns to sheer desperation, Lowe puts on a performance with a great deal of frustrated physicality.

Unfortunately, Louisa Kraus doesn’t get as much to do. In their scenes together, May drives the plot by telling Drew what to do and giving information that helps us understand the dangers of repeatedly diving 20 feet down into the ocean. But there are, through flashbacks and imagined sequences, times where the sisters’ childhood, and the reason for the distance between them, is explored.

The tense tale unfolds against a beautifully-shot backdrop, both above and below the surface. The early sweeping shots of the isolated landscape are captivating, and the underwater cinematography is perfectly lit. The sea manages to be both beautiful and terrifying, and The Dive will surely put off all but the bravest of us from ever trying to delve into it.

The Dive is in cinemas on 25th August.

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