Sharks are scary that’s a fact. Having only ever seen them in real life at a very safe distance behind massively reinforced glass at an aquarium I can still see why movie after movie has been made about these black eyed human hunting predators of the deep.
Although many of these movies followed the same formula laid down by the mother of all shark movies, Steven Spielberg’s seminal Jaws, 2003’s Open Water offered an alternate take by upping the realism and attempting to put the viewer firmly in the shark infested waters with the main characters slowly expiring in real time.
Upping the game Cage Dive also known as Open Water 3 utilizes the found footage genre to make the fear even more visceral with first time feature director Gerald Rascionato, who also penned the story and script with Stephen Lister, presenting the film as a faux documentary about 3 missing friends whose final hours are found captured on a camcorder discovered by a diver.
Building the story slowly at first, perhaps a bit too slowly in fact, we are introduced to risk taking adrenalin junkie brothers Joel and Josh (Jeff Miller and Josh Potthoff) who along with Joel’s girlfriend Megan (Megan Peta Hill) head to Australia for a cage dive encounter they hope will guarantee them a place on an extreme sports reality show.
Filming everything for their audition tape we see the threesome party and enjoy the Aussie life while the film throws a love triangle in the mix just to spice up the drama. Finally 30 minutes in we head to the boat and thankfully from here Cage Dive really comes into its own.
Very obviously and wonderfully things go horrendously wrong once the trio enters the cage leading to an extremely scary and sensationally well done ship wreck and the leads left abandoned in the middle of the ocean fighting for survival for the rest of the movie against the man eating menaces.
When we reach the main set up Cage Dive becomes more like Open Water in every element (although there is a night vision nod to Blair Witch at one point) and the payoff to the earlier character development is delivered with the brothers bickering and Megan stuck in the middle freaking out at their horrible seemingly hopeless situation.
The film throws a few twists and turns along the way to keep the story from sinking and Rascionato ramps up the tension with the threat of a shark attack imminent at any moment pushing the characters nerves to the edge along with the audience.
Thankfully Cage Dive isn’t all peril and no payoff and there are some excellent attacks from the finned foes looking for food. When they do happen the deaths are jaw-droppingly good and far more convincing than expected, realized with some excellent effects and great gore.
It’s a shame that the film seemingly takes so long to get going as when we hit the water things get intense and interesting. For me I just wish we could have dived straight into the action instead of standing beside the pool waiting for it to warm up.
Worth watching for the excellent shark strikes that are guaranteed to shock and scare you off dry land, if you are a fan of found footage films and Open Water especially you will have a killer whale of a time watching Cage Dive for sure.