Frightfest: The Dive (2023)

Director: Maximilian Erlenwein

Running Time: 91 Minutes

Starring: Sophie Lowe, Louisa Krause

Based on Joachim Hedén's 2020 film Breaking Surface, the Swedish thriller is given an English language remake from director/co-writer Maximilian Erlenwein. The story follows experienced scuba diving sisters May (Louisa Krause) and Drew (Sophie Lowe), whose shared time is limited to their annual deep-sea diving trips. Arriving at the remote spot, the pair find their immersive experience within the peaceful blue sea to be like returning home.

That peacefulness is interrupted by a landslide above water, as the falling rocks leaves May trapped on a seabed 28-meters below the surface. With their lives threatened by dangerously low levels of oxygen and the cold temperatures, Drew struggles to remain calm. May puts on a more level-headed front, relaying to her sister what needs to be done in an effort to quell the panic and hopefully solve the situation. Her lone moments tell another story, as May struggles practicing what she preaches with her dwindling oxygen levels.

As time counts down, the race is on to find help and adapt to the situation impeded by human error and circumstances outside their control. Early shots establish potentially useful elements which later reappear, mirroring the intercutting flashbacks in how necessary information is conveyed without requiring exposition. Erlenwein effectively utilizes the simple premise to build tension as the set-backs occur, although one wishes it could sustain those moments for longer and that some of the obstacles did not feel so manufactured. For a film that has repeatedly been compared to 2022's Fall, it does not reach such heart-stopping heights.

Where the film is strongest is in the central pairing, courtesy of the terrific performances put into these opposites. Lowe effectively captures Drew's lively personality, as she embraces the trip's annual attempts of recapturing the lost sibling relationship, while Krause greatly conveys how she has kept her family at a distance, yet is left to face what she has been running from. As the circumstances force the sisters into unfathomable sequences, their refusal to give up showcases the resilience of the human spirit as the film reaches terrific depths.

The Dive made its UK Premiere at Frightfest 2023