Cage Dive (2017) reminds us that sometimes when footage is found, it’s absolutely fine to just leave it where it is. #SharkWeak4🦈 Review
Found footage horror is quite the rarity in the bad shark movie genre but then again, CAGE DIVE (sometimes badged as OPEN WATER 3: CAGE DIVE although it has no direct relationship OPEN WATER) is a film of contradictions. While it does, at least, feature sharks – unlike its shark-free predecessor – it doesn’t actually devote a great deal of time to a cage dive either.
Opening with the eye-roll-inducing cheesiness of a warning that “In 2015 an underwater camera was found at the bottom of the ocean. We would like to warn viewers that the footage on the camera contains graphic material”, the film proceeds to layer on the authenticity by interspersing the ‘recovered’ footage with news reports and talking head testimony, none of which make up for the fact that before we even get to dip our toes in the water we’re subjected to half an hour of obnoxious holiday home movie/ reality show audition tape/ unnecessary love triangle. It does, at least, give CAGE DIVE a unique feature in that – long before they appear – you’re already rooting for the sharks to eat ‘em all.
It’s a shame for a film franchise that previously prided itself on its (admittedly speculative) realism that this rebadged third chapter leans so heavily into the fictional shark movie trope. There’s certainly no commitment to realism in the camerawork, which markedly improves once our protagonists are in the water although the sound mixing clings to some verisimilitude as it’s often badly muffled and frequently inaudible. Not, unfortunately, as frequently as you might wish, though, after you’ve had an earful of the incessant whiny bickering which passes for dialogue between the three main characters.
The briefest glimpse of the tidal wave which precipitates their situation is arguably more terrifying than any of the shark-related schlock that follows and it at least has the benefit of being unexpected. Despite being ostensibly ‘found footage’, most of the bite-related kills are often telegraphed in advance as if the camcorder operator was blessed with an uncanny precognizance.
Burdened with all the usual found footage tropes including the scourge of the genre, night vision scenes, CAGE DIVE never manages to escape the tar pit of its fundamentally unlikeable lead characters. Indeed, potentially the most horrific death has nothing to do with the sharks or the situation and everything to do with their relentless, petty quarrelling.
Although generally praised for its diving authenticity, the film has attracted a fair amount of criticism for the unrealistic actions of the sharks but I came away with a different theory: the relentlessly predatory behaviour of the sharks makes perfect sense when you realise they were just doing everything they could to get the three floating humans to shut the fuck up.