The set-up is quite simple: two brothers and one of the  brother’s girlfriend, in an effort to win a place on an extreme sports television programme, travel to Australia to film themselves in a shark cage. Early references are made to our lead character’s need for heart medication and also his plan to propose when he’s on the programme, the physical obstacles come in the place of a large wave that destroys the boat and leaves them stranded at sea with an oncoming school of sharks.

First, the positives: the effects works, while kept to a minimum, it’s surprisingly smooth with the sequence in which the wave crushes the boat and a late in the day shark attack being quite well done. Also you feel that greater efforts have been made behind the scenes to have the sharks act like, well, sharks and not just the cliched mindless monsters they are often portrayed as in film. Though by now the handheld, documentary-style horror film has been done to death, there is still some tension to be generated from its insular approach, keeping the actor’s reactions close to the lens.

Sadly those reactions aren’t enhanced by a lack of talent in front of the camera with a gang of young, attractive people left, pardon the pun, floundering as they are unable to quite live up to even the most hackneyed of dramatic tropes presented to them. A lot of the film rests entirely on believing these people’s terror, it would be nice if such emotions didn’t ring false. Equally, at a relatively lean 75 minutes, it takes far too long to get to water while we are forced to watch a series of sequences mostly designed to see how many angles they can show women in their underwear. There is almost an unintentionally hilarious joy to the knowledge that the human protagonists are responsible for as much death as the sharks.

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In the canon of shark films, I don’t think Cage Dive is destined to be a classic but then. Then again, with most of the canon having been built in the wake of Jaws having basically perfected the format, it’s always a tough ask. I can’t completely hate the film as when it gets going, it’s actually quite good. It’s just a shame that it takes too long to do so and even when it does, doesn’t long enough.

Dir: Gerald Rascionato

Scr: Gerald Rascionato, Stephen Lister

Cast:  Joel Hogan, Josh Potthoff, Megan Peta Hill, Pete Valley, Mark Hill, Christopher Callen

Prd: Charles M. Barsamian, Rana Joy Glickman, Jake Gray, Antonie Mouawad, Gerald Rascionato

DOP: Andrew Bambach, Gerald Rascionato

Music: The Newton Brothers

Country: US/AU

Year: 2017

Run time: 75 minutes

Open Water 3: Cage Dive is out on DVD, Blu-Ray & Digital Download from 9th October.