April 12, 2018 12 Feet Deep (Movie Review)
Most of us are fighting to stay afloat in life, trying our best not to drown in our own issues. In the new Thriller 12 Feet Deep – which arrived to DVD on April 3, 2018, thanks to MarVista Entertainment and Citizen Skull Productions – two formerly estranged sisters, one recent parolee, and a truly lazy pool supervisor rendezvous under the most random of circumstances.
Sisters Bree (Nora-Jane Noone: The Descent 2005, Brooklyn 2015) and Jonna (Alexandra Park: Home and Away series, The Royals series) are trying to mend their tattered relationship after a period of estrangement. Brought back together for the elongated Thanksgiving weekend and with copious amounts of skeletons in their familial closet, younger sis Jonna joins Bree at the Ketea Aquatic Center and Public Pool for a quick dip before they muster up the courage to face the turkey and depression at home.
Here, the pool supervisor (Tobin Bell: Mississippi Burning 1988, Saw 2004) is in a rush to get home to his wife and some turkey giblet casserole (and possibly some game-playing, eh?). As he flutters about, preparing for the holiday weekend, he quickly fires an errant employee (Diane Farr: Roswell series, Black-ish series), a recent parolee who has just been caught going through swimmer’s belongings. Racing out the door to get home for yummy dins, the supervisor initiates the sequence to close the large fiberglass cover on the Olympic-sized swimming pool with only the most precarious of safety checks.
As tragic luck would have it, Bree and Jonna are at the bottom of that pool, attempting to free an engagement ring from a metal grate. Within minutes, the ladies find themselves trapped beneath that thick sheet of fiberglass, with less than a foot of air space. As if this was not enough, Bree is an insulin-dependent diabetic, who without her shots is likely to slip into a coma. With the tensions mounting and the clock ticking down, the sisters will realize that their problems are far greater than they initially suspected and, while they might be the only warm bodies in the pool, they are not alone inside the aquatic center.
Clocking in at 85 minutes in-length, 12 Feet Deep was directed by Matt Eskandari (Victim 2010, Game of Assassins 2013) and was written by Eskandari and Michael Hultquist (Victim 2010, Arena 2011). While the film is billed as a Thriller, it plays out more like a Drama with elements of suspense; which is to say that there are very few, if any, thrills here, but a whole lot of emotional upheaval coated in a fine dusting of the suspenseful.
Which in no way is to suggest that 12 Feet Deep is not well-done: it is exceedingly so, a truly enjoyable film that does a lot with very little. Considering that the flick is set almost entirely inside a swimming pool and the cast totals four actors – with Christian Blackburn (Chimera 2011, Colony series) as Bree’s fiancé David receiving just a minute of on-screen time – this is a film that detonates a massive impact with minimalist workings. The success of which is due, in large part, to both its phenomenal, multi-layered script and talented cast.
Particularly speaking, Noone (Bree) and Park (Jonna) are commendable in their difficult roles. It is never easy to portray a woman with a traumatic past who is struggling to this day, and to do so while keeping afloat inside a pool only makes the task that much more difficult. Both of the leading ladies do a superb job in their roles, with Noone portraying the more even-keeled, elder sister, and Park having the slightly more challenging role of being the younger sibling who is drowning under the weight of her emotional turmoil. To some degree, it is Park’s character’s viciousness and bitterness that ultimately provide the story’s resolution and for this, she shines in her splendid contribution to this wonderful production.
With glorious underwater cinematography, 12 Feet Deep tackles a lot of heavy questions and weighty emotional topics, all of which range far wider than any-sized pool you can dream up; the strength of the film, therefore, is its multiple layers of turmoil. Full of deep-probing topics and relatable characters who are challenged to face their own greatest issues, 12 Feet Deep is an intelligent if minimalist film that proves the talents of its stellar cast and crew. When you see an easy opportunity, do you take it no matter the cost? The answer, my friends, is what separates us from the monsters. Wonderfully done, smart and emotional, CrypticRock give 12 Feet Deep 4.5 of 5 stars.