Though it suffers from misleading marketing, “Deep Fear” is a strong thriller, even with too little of the much-touted shark action.
Deep Fear landed on digital earlier this month (November 3, 2023). Read on to find out if you should rent, stream, or skip it.
Touted as a survival thriller with a good chunk of action spent around sharks, Deep Fear centers around Naomi, played by Mãdãlina Gueye, who, despite having a stable and happy life, is tortured by events of her past where she lost her parents in a boating accident. This is fleshed out after a stunning opening dive/credit sequence.
She is unsure about settling down with Jackson (Ed Westwick) and needs to search her soul and decide what she wants to do. She is being pressured and needs a time out and does so by embarking on a solo trip.
A lone sailor with PTSD plus an incoming storm means that something is going to go wrong. And it does, but it is a bit of Naomi’s making. While reporting the incident, she comes across two survivors of a wreck and is told there has been no SOS, which really should get the spidey sense tingling.
Luckily for us, she rescues the shipwrecked couple despite the warnings from the other half via radio that the storm is on its way.
Jose (Stany Coppet) and Maria (Macarena Gómez, who soon shows her MVP status) tell her five others are trapped within the hull. They are refugees who are being helped to get to America and are insistent that the Coast Guard are not contacted.
At this point, it starts to stretch that suspension of disbelief, as she is letting herself get roped into checking the wreck with a total stranger just because her parents were lost similarly.
By now, you know where this is going — and it’s not going well.
If you have seen a lot of genre films, especially survival ones, you know that the heroine will be in trouble soon.
Of course, no good deed goes unpunished as Naomi manages to rescue the lone survivor just as a Great White descends on the scene and quickly makes a snack off Jose (we hardly knew ye!), which is handled quite well as the murky conditions help mask any limitations in the effects.
This allows Naomi and Tomas (a sweaty John-Paul Pace) to escape to the surface. And then it goes really bad for her as it’s revealed (the shock) that they are not refugees but couriers of a particular product currently sitting in Davy Jones Locker and that Naomi must help retrieve it.
What makes this more interesting is that the sharks are secondary to what is happening within the story, despite what the trailer shows.
Director Marcus Adams (working from a script by Robert Capelli Jr. and Sophia Eptamenitis) has tried to establish the story quickly, getting the required introductions/motivations out of the way to avoid padding out elsewhere.
Naomi’s character is a strong one; she knows when to push Tomas and Maria. As for Maria, she’s just as excellent as Macarena Gómez imbues a dead-eyed stare and is the master manipulator, keeping cards close to her chest, and is someone you love to hate.
The dive sequences are filmed well, and they look great.
The lack of visibility in the wreck sections contrasts with the opening sequences, where you could see everything, and this helps when the sharks do make an appearance.
They look good, benefit from quick cuts, and are not on screen for long. Adams smartly saves the best for the final act, and I’ll not spoil it here because there is a great deal of satisfaction to be had from it.
Though the film doesn’t make the biggest splash in terms of memorability, there are a lot of positives for Deep Fear.
Each actor does enough with their time onscreen, with special mention for Gómez and Gueye. The diving scenes are deftly filmed, especially those within the wreck. And, of course, there is some shark action, which is always good.