CAGE DIVE (2017)
aka OPEN WATER 3: CAGE DIVE
Directed by Gerald Rascionato
Three friends from Laguna Beach, California, apply for an exteme gameshow in the hope they’re selected for the chance to win big prize money. As part of their audition tape, they decide to record their trip to Australia where they plan to take part in a cage dive to get up close and personal with Great White sharks. With such an action-packed audition tape, they’ll surely win a place on the show. However, when the cage dive boat they’re on capsizes after being hit by a freak wave, the mettle of the trio is put to the test as they are forced to survive the unforgiving ocean and the predators swimming within.
I absolutely love shark movies and after the onslaught of the jokey Sharknado series, it was nice to get back to a proper shark film again. Shark thriller CAGE DIVE takes on a realistic edge, utilsing the ‘art’ of found footage (yes, that ol’ chestnut) in what was to be the third found footage film I watched this weekend.
Acting as some sort of unofficial Open Water installment, Open Water 3 according to IMDB, CAGE DIVE follows the adventures of brothers Jeff and Josh and Jeff’s girlfriend Megan, three fiesty, 20-somethings looking to live life to the full. Personally introducing themselves to the camera, we learn that Jeff (Joel Hogan) is a buff dude who takes pride in his fitness and appearance, Josh (Josh Potthoff) is the quieter, more studious one and Megan (Megan Peta Hill) is a happy go lucky ball of energy. The three friends are bursting at the seams with excitement for their trip to Australia, first stopping off to see cousin Greg before making their way to their shark cage dive. As first impressions go, the trio seem a little shallow but likable in their own way and you genuinely can’t wait to see what happens at the cage dive because we know that’s where all the trouble will start.
The film unfolds exactly as you expect it to with the three stranded in the water, attempting to stay alive long enough for rescuers to find them whilst avoiding being chomped by the feared Great Whites. The found footage style shoot works rather well to give a personal experience as though you’re in the water with them. With the camera occasionally being ducked underwater to see where the threats are lurking, we get treated to some pretty amazing visual effects courtesy of Important Looking Pirates, the VFX company from Sweden responsible for the effects in Black Sails, Westworld and Constantine, to name just a few. These sudden, close-up attacks are thrilling to watch and add an intensity from being so close to the screen. However, because these shark attacks happen so suddenly, there’s absolutely no tension nor build up to really play on the fear of the viewer and execute that gut punch. No sooner has the shark attacked, leaving a scarlet pool of blood in its wake, are we then onto the next panicked conversation about rescue and survival. The shark attack becomes a distant memory after providing a brief moment of shock.
With its emphasis on the drama of survival and the bond between the three individuals, which is tested in the form of a love triangle sub-plot causing the relationship between the trio to go from strong to strained, the horror element takes a backseat. It’s still there but unfortunately you can pretty much time when a shark appearance will occur and when it does, the brief flurry of panic is over with in a matter of seconds. Instead, we’re left with the bumbling actions of the trio to entertain us throughout the running time however nothing can prepare for Megan’s mega act of stupidity involving a flare which will make viewers cringe in disbelief. With the film being portrayed as a proper found footage movie, intercut with interviews from cousin Greg and the local police chief, it is stretching the means of imagination and unfortunately struggles to make an impact as either a thriller or a horror.
Despite its brilliant VFX and intimate shooting style, CAGE DIVE is about as thrilling as an adventure in a dinghy (actually, that might be rather fun). Its lack of tension and sustained scares leaves the movie a little shallow as a straight, serious shark flick. If you’re looking for an entertaining shark movie, you might want to check out Ghost Shark or fan favourite Shark Attack 3: Megalodon instead, both of which up the fear ante whilst providing plenty of genuine laughs.