Under Paris Review

Xavier Gens killer shark movie doesn’t break any new ground (and can be quite stupid) but still provides entertaining underwater horror.

PLOT: Sophia, a brilliant scientist comes to realize that a large shark is swimming deep in the waters near Paris.

REVIEW: There’s something about shark movies that gets to me on a primal level. Sure, there’s still just the one good one but something about them increases my anxiety to unreal heights. The surface of the water hides all the mysteries and horror beneath it, and I have a very active imagination. So my ears perked up when it was announced that Xavier Gens would be entering the world of shark horror. Because even when he doesn’t entirely hit (like this year’s Mayhem) he still manages to provide a technically proficient film with consistent momentum.

Under Paris follows Sophia after her entire team has been killed by a large shark. Three years later, the same shark’s GPS tag springs up in the canals of Paris, causing Sophia to seek it out. She has to contend with politicians who don’t believe her, a shark protection group that refuses to think a shark would ever be violent, and Mother Nature herself. Bérénice Bejo is great as Sophia and gives the film a bit of class. I haven’t really seen her since The Artist, so it was a bit jarring to see her fighting sharks at first. Thankfully she fits in perfectly and brings an air of believability to the narrative. And given how ridiculous the events can get, she’s invaluable. And while he didn’t get to show off his martial arts chops, Nassim Lyes does a good job as the river police commander.

Under Paris (2024).

The sharks range from passable to really bad with their CGI. It’s amazing how sharks are still so difficult to pull off in a believable way. There are brief moments where the sharks look pretty decent and are believable enough. But there are even more times when they behave so unrealistically and defy the law of physics. Movie sharks move so unnaturally fast that it takes a bit of the fear away. And I lost track of the times this giant shark propelled itself out of the water in a comical way.

I enjoyed the cinematography on display, with the filmmakers really utilizing different looks for the underwater shots. They were able to take advantage of the dirty river water as a great way to hide the shark and increase the tension. Variant color schemes help to provide a unique identity for each scene, which could have very easily been very samey. And there’s a beautiful shot of Paris near the end of the film that made me question how they managed such good FX at such a large scale.

A decent number of people are killed by the shark but a frustratingly small amount is shown on screen. They take the standard horror approach of ramping up the kills with every subsequent death, but it can still feel a little rinse and repeat. After all, how many different ways can a person get killed by a shark? And these sharks also really don’t seem to like eating people and just like nibbling on and dismembering them.  They lose their aura of terror the more the film goes on and the more we see them interact. Thankfully, at about the halfway mark, there are so many deaths that it’s easy to lose track. And a shoutout to the Deep Blue Sea reference (you’ll know it when you see it).

Nassim Lyes in Under Paris (2024).

There are plenty of silly moments like Sophia reminiscing about her dead friends, only to accidentally come across the footage of them dying. But it just adds to the absurdity of the events. Because as much as everything is treated deadly serious, these moments really help to add to the entertainment value. Just like the blue-haired climate change girl being insistent that sharks don’t eat people only to learn the hard way that she may be wrong.

Under Paris is exactly what most shark movies end up being: an absurdist view of what a shark would do if it was a sentient killer. I wouldn’t say it’s good, but there are some high-octane moments that help you ignore the more overtly dumb ones. Climate change is a large factor in the story and it gets a little heavy-handed with its message. But I really enjoyed where the film ended up, setting up for what could be an extremely intriguing sequel. Watch this with a group of friends and laugh at the insanity on display. That’s what most shark movies are good for, and this is no exception.


under paris review

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/under-paris-review/

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