Kristen Stewart in Underwater (Photo: Fox)

UNDERWATER
★½ (out of four)
DIRECTED BY William Eubank
STARS Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel

If someone grabbed one of Ridley Scott’s aliens and propelled it to the ocean depths, the result would be the soggy Underwater.

Kristen Stewart is the best thing about this subaquatic suspenser wanna-be, as her character and a handful of other hapless humans (played by, among others, Vincent Cassel and T.J. Miller) discover slimy critters surround their subterranean laboratory. As they attempt to escape, they’re gutted by these tentacled terrors at every turn — alas, the movie is so dark, it’s possible the filmmakers were using Muppet puppets most of the time and only spending dough on CGI monsters for the brightly lit bits. Eventually, there’s even a suggestion that the company that employs these workers — I didn’t catch its name, but it might as well be The Weyland Corporation — perhaps already knew about this subaqueous species but kept it mum.

This derivative movie not only borrows heavily from the Alien template — right down to Stewart battling in her underwear a la Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley — it also brings to mind the handful of late-‘80s creature features that similarly involved underwater oddities: The Abyss, Leviathan, DeepStar Six, The Rift, and the MST3K-approved Lords of the Deep. When someone is potentially stealing from a movie that was riffed at the robotic hands of Crow and Tom Servo, then it’s safe to say that Hollywood really is in trouble.

So is there anything original in Underwater? Yes. In one scene, a wrapped Moon Pie is shown floating in the water, and it eventually becomes a topic of conversation between two of the characters. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Moon Pie in a movie (maybe never?), and it was such a starting sight that I half-expected a similar cameo from a Cheerwine or RC Cola bottle.

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