Directed by: Maximilian Erlenwein
Written by: Maximilian Erlenwein, Joachim Hedén
Starring: Louisa Krause, Sophie Lowe
Released: November 2, 2023
Grade: B

The Dive

‘Tis the season for small casts!  Last Thursday, two Australian films were released where just a single actor was seen on screen – Luke Bracey in Mercy Road and Lilly Sullivan in Monolith.  A similar theme is playing out this week.  Garth Davis’s Foe has only three named characters while The Dive, requires even less – it’s a two-hander starring American Louisa Krause (The Girlfriend Experience) and Australian Sophie Lowe (Above Suspicion).

The Dive taps into our general fear of travelling below the ocean’s surface.  May (Krause) and Drew (Lowe) are young cave divers who go on a remote scuba expedition off the coast of Malta.  The film’s first 15 minutes are rather ho-hum with the pair engaging in a contrived “deep & meaningful” conversation while treading water in an underwater cavern (as opposed to the car ride there).  It’s a simplistic way to introduce the two protagonists and reveal a splash of tension between them.

It’s now time for the action to begin.  A landslide occurs, debris falls from above, and May’s leg becomes trapped under a heavy boulder on the ocean floor.  She has roughly 25 minutes worth of air left and so it falls upon Drew, the less experienced of the pair, to maintain her composure and execute a life-saving plan.  Going in search of help will be tricky, given their remote location, and so it’s about using tools at their disposal to move the rock before May’s air runs out.

The Dive is an English-language remake of a Scandinavian, Breaking Surface, which premiered in 2020.  Writer-director Maximilian Erlenwein loved the idea but made a few changes to the screenplay to fit with his vision.  Using very few visual effects (except for the landslide), he’s to be commended for creating a tight, credible thriller, shot mostly underwater, where audiences will buy into Drew’s emotional roller coaster.  There are moments of hope and creativity… and moments of fear and despair.

The dialogue is wooden, and the characters are a little dull, but The Dive still generates enough suspense from its scenario to keep you guessing about what will happen next.