THE DIVE Review: Running Out of Time

Louisa Krause and Sophie Lowe star in a tense thriller under the sea, directed by Maximilian Erlenwein.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
THE DIVE Review: Running Out of Time

"I can't breathe."

The Dive
The film opens Friday, August 25, 2023, in select movie theaters, as well as everywhere you rent movies, via RLJE Films.

Bubbly and free-spirited, Drew (Sophie Lowe) is a study in contrasts with her older sister Meg (Louisa Krause), who, from her external appearance, is calm, placid, and not visibly enjoying the sisters' annual diving adventure.

Still, they are sisters, despite their differences, and we know they love each other. Once they get into the water, they enjoy the beauty and the wonder of the underwater world that opens up to them. Until, that is, something calamitous happens and Meg is trapped by an immovable boulder, unable to break free, and her air running out.

They are miles away from any help. That was, apparently, a large part of the appeal: someplace where they could get away from other people, away from any sort of tourist spots, away from where others could disturb them. The isolated island is, in fact, gorgeous in its still beauty; the waters are crystal clear, clear enough to see that no one will be coming to save them.

It will be up to the sisters to save themselves.

As things develop, we're quickly aware that Meg is the calm one, the one with greater experience and knowledge, the one who can get them both out of this situation. First, though, she must simultaneously calm Drew down and also give her step by step instructions so that she'll know what to do, and how to do it.

Meg, after all, is the one who is trapped by an immovable boulder under the surface of the tranquil sea. It's her air that is running out. And she must direct her inexperienced, excitable sister with precise instructions and firmly urge her to do what she says exactly. Now, please.

The prospect of being trapped under the surface of any body of water is terrifying and prone to cause one to begin hyperventilating. I'm trying to calm myself down as I type these words. And I've already seen the movie!

If this premise sounds at all familiar, perhaps you've seen the excellent Breaking Surface, which I reviewed a couple years ago. This is an official English-language remake, with the screenplay credited to both the original film's writer/director Joachim Hedén and the new film's director, Maximilian Erlenwein. With two features (Stereo, 2014; Gravity, 2009) under his belt, along with several episodes of the Netflix series Skylines, 2019, Erlenwein is comfortable leaning on the darker side of the premise.

Bear in mind that the original unfolded amidst a cold and snowy Norwegian winter, and the remake takes place under sunny skies in a warmer climate. The script also changes the relationship between the sisters, still trapping the more experienced diver under the rock, but making it the older sibling rather than the younger, which changes the dynamic between them as the struggle for life takes on greater urgency with every passing minute.

As with the original, The Dive twists "every possible narrative turn out of the severe limitations that are placed upon the women. Not every twist is entirely believable -- it's probably a few too many contrivances piled together -- but rigid authenticity is not really the goal."

Keeping to a fleet running time helps, and the breathless pace becomes snappy and relentless thanks to the excellent performances by both Louisa Krause and Sophie Lowe, who fully inhabit their characters and make convincing siblings. The Dive will make even experienced divers double-check their equipment and communications equipment.

The rest of us will stay on land and hold our breath, hoping for our loved ones to safely return.

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Louisa KrauseSophie Lowe. Maximilian Erlenwein

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