Underwater

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Underwater Movie Poster Image
Kristen Stewart sci-fi survival thriller has scares, swears.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 8 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

When life gets scary and you feel powerless, stop feeling and start doing. Teamwork can help you overcome extreme challenges.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Women and men in work environment demonstrate teamwork, each bringing different skills, abilities to keep others calm in stressful situations. Norah is a smart, capable, brave, resourceful, quick-thinking computer engineer -- in keeping her head and thinking of others, she becomes a hero. Male members of the crew aren't hypermasculine stereotypes.

Violence

Sci-fi violence includes frightening life-threatening explosions, discovery of dead bodies. Humans implode inside deep sea suits and battle terrifying monsters. Characters are in intense peril.

Sex

When changing in and out of diving suits, male and female characters strip down to non-revealing underwear; this eventually leads to two female characters spending several scenes running around in only their skivvies. Two characters are dating but don't engage in PDA.

Language

Strong language includes "ass," "damn," "goddamned," "hell," and multiple uses of "s--t" and "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Underwater is a sci-fi thriller about a team of researchers who face unknown peril at the bottom of the ocean. This is a monster movie that's meant to scare you -- and it definitely does. But while you can expect deaths (including people imploding inside deep sea suits), near-constant peril, and lots of tense moments, nothing is especially graphic. It's basically an oceanic Alien, down to centering on a tough woman, Norah (Kristen Stewart), who has to figure out how to outsmart a terrifying creature. She makes a fantastic role model as a modern-day Ellen Ripley -- although, just like Ripley, she ends up taking care of some of her tasks in her underwear. The male members of the crew aren't hypermasculine stereotypes (one even carries a stuffed animal), and the group demonstrates both courage and excellent teamwork. Strong language ("s--t," "f--k," etc.) is used but isn't constant.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byajdctx January 12, 2020

PSA: Parents if you don’t like scary movies, than don’t watch them. Just because it scared you doesn’t mean it’s bad, it means its effective. Now THIS movie shows how scary a PG-13 film can REALLY be!

This movie is not for the faint of heart, I’m going to start off with that. the violence isn’t graphic at all and just includes some blood in the water and spla... Continue reading
Adult Written byRar0274950 January 10, 2020

Lame

Not a family movie. Too scary for my liking. The focus of making the movie scary took away from the storyline. Waste of money.
Teen, 13 years old Written byNWS January 17, 2021

This movie proves that PG-13 horror can be just as terrifying as R horror.

Underwater is super suspenseful. My heart was racing before the opening credits were even done. It has a great story, great acting, amazing visual effects, and... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bykju December 2, 2020

this was not bad at all it was none scary and the langue yes is bad but

it was the best film yet but i think kids 13 and up can watch this because it is not bad at all but the langue is bad

What's the story?

In UNDERWATER, Norah (Kristen Stewart) and her team of researchers are investigating the ocean depths when some kind of earthquake damages their lab beyond repair. With their oxygen running out, their only hope of survival is to put on diving suits and walk across the ocean floor to reach another station. But as they set out on their journey, they realize that a dangerous unknown creature is lurking in the dark waters.

Is it any good?

Yes, this is an Alien knockoff, but that doesn't mean it's not enthralling -- and it's modernized in a way that may appeal more to older teens. To that end, director William Eubank includes a couple of great lines in Underwater that will connect directly to Gen Z, tapping into a message of how to deal with feeling helpless in an out-of-control world. It's a little pat, but it's still empowering (and if the film winds up resonating with teens, the lines could end up on memes). 

That message is a nice cap on a film that, while thoroughly entertaining, feels made to trigger anxiety attacks. You never know what monster will jump out or which character will die next (unfortunately, the film does stick with the scary movie cliché of the type of character who always dies first). Stewart's trademark acting style -- nervous and uncomfortable -- works well here; her character doesn't know what the next second holds, but she just keeps moving forward, one foot in front of the other. Norah is the embodiment of the airplane emergency instructions: She puts on her own oxygen mask first by summoning her own survival skills and then helps the others put their masks on -- in some cases, dragging them along behind her. Norah is so far from Stewart's weak-willed Twilight character Bella that, by movie's end, we've seen a total transformation of not only Norah but Stewart herself.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Underwater compares to other monster movies. Why do you think audiences enjoy watching humans battle made-up creatures? How does it make you feel when the movie's over?

  • How did the film present counter-stereotypes in terms of gender roles? How does that compare with other movies you've seen, particularly older ones?

  • What parts of the movie did you find scary? How did the filmmakers prompt that emotion? Would the scenes have felt the same with different music? Lighting? Do movies have to be violent to be scary?

  • How does the crew demonstrate teamwork? Much of the teamwork we see also takes courage. What actions did you see that count as courage rather than just a survival instinct?

  • What did you think about Norah's statement that feelings of powerlessness are just feelings -- that you should stop feeling and start doing? Is that a message you can apply to real life?

Movie details

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