Their car winding its way along the desiccated road, no sign of civilisation as far as the eye can see, beyond the sheer drop of weather sculpted cliff-faces to their right is the ocean, its deep blue a contrast to the golden dust of the island where sisters May and Drew have scheduled their annual reunion and the dive which accompanies it.
A tradition which May hoped would bring them closer together again, Drew is present but distant, harbouring resentment but refusing to give her more experienced sister the satisfaction of seeing her back down, the pair donning their air tanks and masks and descending through clefts in rock and undersea caves when an earthquake strikes, rocks tumbling down through the water and trapping May on the sea floor.
Directed by Maximilian Erlenwein from on a screenplay co-written with Joachim Hedén based on Hedén’s original treatment, The Dive is a no-frills survival thriller starring Louisa Krause and Sophie Lowe as May and Drew, akin to the similar aquatic excursions of 47 Metres Down and Great White though without sharks or any other characters save for May and Drew’s memories of their childhood and diving lessons with their father.
The stunning locations of the coast of Malta is matched by the Frank Griebe’s underwater cinematography of water and light, bubbles rising to the surface as the fractured sunlight filters through the waves above, patterning the rocks below as the sisters go deeper and push each other further, first as an exercise in endurance and then to survive.
The waters clear but the emotions murky, despite her situation, held under an immovable boulder but uninjured though with limited air remaining, May is clear-headed, immediately detailing the actions her sister must undertake and the order in which they must be done, hampered by their isolation and the similar changes Drew finds on the shore, their phones and car keys also buried under rubble.
Tense and undeniably well performed, obviously created by a team who are as experienced in the subject as the characters, where The Dive suffers is that it is a single crisis extended for ninety minutes, a determined but one-trick seahorse told largely in real time where the flashbacks become a shorthand for emotion to add counterpoint to the desperation, technically well produced but with a script which drags the last gasps out of the creative oxygen.
The Dive is now on general release