A SHORT, sharp and schlocky shark-attack thriller, 47 Metres Down won't be winning any awards for originality.

However, in terms of persuading us to consider cancelling all seaside holidays until further notice, a jolting job is quite well done.

Mandy Moore and Claire Holt play Lisa and Kate, American sisters who appear to have booked their Mexican vacation with the same travel agent Blake Lively must have used in last year's narky-sharky box-office hit The Shallows.

The ladies' good times swiftly plummet to unexpectedly bad depths when an underwater sightseeing mishap leaves them trapped inside a rusty cage on the ocean floor.

Their air supplies will soon be running out. Some humungous killer sharks will soon be closing in.

Just as character backstories are kept to a bare minimum - Kate is the sensible one with rudimentary diving experience, Lisa is the panicky one who just broke up with her boyfriend - so too are the plotting logistics framing this life-or-death situation.

Mandy Moore and Claire Holt in a scene from the movie 47 Metres Down.
Mandy Moore and Claire Holt in a scene from the movie 47 Metres Down. Contributed

Help is just out of radio range. The girls have to get out of the cage to receive rescue updates from the dodgy sailor that dropped them in the drink in the first place.

His name is Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine), and all you need to know about him is that he owns two sets of the weakest winching cables on the high seas.

Oh, and if you're wondering why Lisa and Kate can't just make a rapid swim for it upwards when the coast is clear, there's the killer curse of the bends preventing that.

To ascend to the surface, they will have to make regular stops along the way.

Not a good idea when there's a bunch of famished sharks the size of school buses ready to pounce at a second's notice.

Though the heroines make some terribly dumb moves in their bid to survive the ordeal, the script's clever reminders about deep-sea dos and don'ts will keep viewers invested in ascertaining the final outcome.

With shark movies, it is all about when to unleash moments of desperate panic, and when to reel them back in with periods of calming clarity.

47 Metres Down gets it right most of the time, striking an effective balance between all the teasing and the teething crucial to the genre.

47 Metres Down

Stars: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine, Chris Johnson, Yani Gellman, Santiago Segura.

Director: Johannes Roberts

Rating: M

Verdict: 3 stars

News Corp Australia

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