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A deep-sea diving journey in Malta turns into a nightmare for two young sisters as one of them becomes trapped by a landslide - survival thriller is in cinemas on Friday, August 25th

Two young and beautiful sisters drive along the splendid Maltese coast, listening to The Pretenders’s Only You at full blast. The song is intended to highlight the loyalty and uniqueness of their sororal bond. There is no one else with whom they could be sharing that moment. May (Louisa Krause) is the most headstrong and assertive half, while Drew (Sophia Lowe) is more hesitant and inexperienced. They stop the car, take two oxygen tanks out and ecstatically dive into the Mediterranean sea. They venture tens of metres down, exploring the dark crevices and the mysterious depths of the waters, while also awing at the fish, the lighting and the nature enveloping them.

Their elation immediately morphs into desperation as a landslide leaves May trapped underwater, and quickly running out of oxygen. It is up to the more vulnerable Drew to take the reins and rescue her sister. They have to work together as a team despite one of them being trapped. There are few options available, with not a single human being at sight, and no sign of civilisation nearby. May gives Drew detailed instructions of what to do and waits patiently for her sister to return. She advises her: “Stay calm. The calmer you are the less air you use”, thereby setting the tone for the film. The story quickly becomes a duel between clear thinking and distress. A breath of anguish and pain could have horrific repercussions. A wrong, poorly-thought decision could cost May’s life.

A number of MacGuffins (a car jack, an oxygen tank, a car key, etc) drive the story forward, with Drew having to hone her MacGyver skills in no time (in order to fix her damaged compressor, open the locked car boot without a key, and so on). Convincing action scenes both underwater and on the rocky surface of Malta create a thoroughly tense survival drama.

These are not uncharted waters. British survival drama 47 Metres Down (Johannes Roberts, 2017) also depicted two young women trapped in the depths of the sea, scrambling desperately for their lives while the clock ticks and the oxygen runs out. The photography, the narrative devices and the twists are surprisingly similar. In both films, nitrogen narcosis (intoxication by compressed gas) begins to set in, causing our protagonists to lose touch with reality. Both directors play with the various narrative layers available to them: dream, hallucination, flashbacks and reality are carefully intertwined, leaving viewers feeling disorientated. British filmmaker Roberts does it to greater effect, with a punch-in-the-face type of closure. German director Erlenwein opts for a more comfortable and familiar route.

We strongly recommend a fully immersive (pun intended) theatrical experience. This isn’t the type of film to be watched at house. For maximum adrenaline, you should be trapped in a dark room without escape and without respite. The 91 minutes should run out fairly quickly, much like the dwindling oxygen in May and Drew’s tanks.

The Dive is in cinemas across the nation on Friday, August 25th.

By Victor Fraga - 30-08-2023

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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