Little Happy, a former fishing village off the coast of Mozambique, now a victim of climate change and almost abandoned as rising sea levels have reduced it to little more than a series of huts floating on pontoons, it has become home to a research outpost led by Doctor Emma Collins and her team who are engaged in the long-term study of a nearby shark nursery and its associated ecosystem.
The great white shark population having dropped by six per cent since the previous summer, Emma’s belief is that all life on Earth is under pressure from climate change but the arrival of her ex-boyfriend Doctor Richard Lowell and his monosyllabic but heavily armed associate Lucas brings a more immediate threat.
Tracking three predatory bull sharks who hunt as a pack, Richard suggests that environmental pressure has caused them to evolve faster than their rivals, their increased intelligence giving them an advantage that will allow them to become dominant over the should they evade captured or elimination and be allowed to breed; Emma is dubious, but the evidence soon presents itself.
Directed by The Quiet Ones‘ John Pogue from a script by Rise of the Lycans‘ Dirk Blackman, Deep Blue 3 is a direct continuation of 2018’s straight-to-video sharkfest, itself a parallel story to Renny Harlin’s 1999 original of genetically modified sharks, as Bella’s three surviving pups approach maturity and enter the killing game, leagues ahead of Richard and learning from his mistakes faster than he does.
Filmed off the coast of Cape Town, the clear waters allow the underwater photography of the early scenes to enchant as Emma explores the nursery and its myriad of diverse inhabitants, but that clarity is a narrative hindrance; combined with the comprehensive sonar map of the region updated in real time, the constant awareness of the precise location of the sharks makes it difficult to use them to build tension, nor do the digital sharks stand up to scrutiny of high definition viewing.
Instead, Deep Blue Sea 3 plays out on the surface, the rivalry and tension between Emma, Richard and Lucas (Lost‘s Tania Raymonde, The Vampire Diaries‘ Nathaniel Buzolic and Infini‘s Bren Foster) leading to an astonishing inability to prioritise in the circumstances, the characters instead withholding information and focusing on badly-timed romances and fistfights to establish dominance while the sharks demonstrate their superior intellect by simply waiting for lunch to inevitably present itself for the taking.
Deep Blue Sea 3 is available on DVD and digital download now