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12 Feet Deep: Trapped Sisters (Movie Review)

12 Feet Deep: Trapped Sisters (Movie Review)
06.20.2017by: Cody Hamman
8 10

12 Feet Deep trapped sisters movie review

PLOT: Sisters Jonna and Bree struggle to survive while trapped under the cover of a public pool over a holiday weekend.

REVIEW: Shot under the title THE DEEP END, director Matt Eskandari's film about two sisters who get trapped beneath a fiberglass pool cover has been retitled 12 FEET DEEP, given the subtitle TRAPPED SISTERS in its marketing, and is set to be released on VOD just in time to coincide with the theatrical release of a different film about sisters stuck in a horrific aquatic situation, 47 METERS DOWN. This retitling and subtitling is somewhat unfortunate, because it makes Eskandari's film come off as a mockbustery joke when it's actually a well-crafted, entertaining thriller.

12 Feet Deep trapped sisters movie review

The "trapped sisters" referenced in that silly subtitle are Alexandra Park as troubled black sheep Jonna and THE DESCENT's Nora-Jane Noone as Bree, who is putting their nightmarish childhood behind her and starting a new life. The sisters get together for a swim in the Olympic-sized public pool at the Ketea Aquatic Center, which is about to close down for an extended weekend holiday. Jonna and Bree are the last two people to get out of the pool as the center's manager (Tobin Bell, making a cameo) rushes everybody out so he can get home. The manager is in such a hurry to close things down, he doesn't notice when the sisters get back into the pool to retrieve Bree's dropped engagement ring from the filter grate at the bottom. When he sets the fiberglass pool cover in motion, he doesn't realize there are still two people in the water.

Jonna and Bree now find themselves stuck beneath a cover that is too solid to break and too heavy to lift, but at least there's enough room between the surface and the cover that they can still breathe. Some viewers might think that this is an easy predicament to get through - the sisters just have to wait out the weekend. It would be rough without food and you can't drink that chlorinated and still filthy public pool water, but some might believe they could push through it just fine. So Eskandari and his co-writer Michael Hultquist throw in some more problems, starting with the fact that Bree is diabetic and will need an insulin shot for her low blood sugar. If she doesn't get that shot, she could slip into a coma.

And there's also an external threat. No, it's not Tobin Bell's character playing some kind of sick game. It's Diane Farr as the pool custodian Clara, a parolee who has slipped back into criminal ways. Realizing that she has two desperate people at her mercy, Clara sees this as a way to make some quick cash...

When I first heard the basic concept of 12 FEET DEEP, the idea of a story about two people trapped beneath a pool cover, I was intrigued to see how that situation could sustain a feature running time. At first, I was resistant to these added elements of Bree's low blood sugar and a human antagonist, but they were actually effective at making the sisters' struggle more intense to watch, they add urgency and make the situation more emotionally involving. They probably couldn't have just made a movie all about trying to bust through a pool cover or lift a filter grate, so these things work.

Eskandari and Hultquist also filled out the time by making the sisters complicated characters with a rocky relationship. These two have issues to work out that go all the way back to their dark and tragic childhood. 

Farr's Clara isn't just a cardboard cut-out villain, either. She has depth, emotions, a hint of a conscience. She has her reasons for doing what she does, as terrible as her actions are. That doesn't stop her from coming off as despicable from time to time, and I don't mean any disrespect to the actress when I say this, but Clara's voice was quite annoying to me, which added to the character's exasperating antics.

12 Feet Deep trapped sisters movie review

Eskandari really got me with this one, and all of the actors did a fantastic job bringing their characters to life. This creative team got me invested in watching the scenario play out, I was fully engaged for the duration and rooting for the sisters to find a way to escape from the pool and from Clara.

Marketing aside, 12 FEET DEEP is a very solid little thriller, and I found watching it to be a great way to spend 85 minutes.

Extra Tidbit: MarVista Entertainment is releasing 12 FEET DEEP on VOD June 20th.

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