At eighty five minutes in length, “12 Feet Deep” has a dilemma it can never seem to get past. It sets up a premise that is only able to keep up momentum for forty minutes. The next forty five is very reliant on a ham fisted and hackneyed plot device. What the writers pose as a crisis of conscience and a woman reflecting on someone similar to herself instead feels like a desperate means of stretching a movie that could easily have been under an hour without the goofy filler. The movie could have easily shrunk down to twenty five minutes if our characters ever acted rationally. “12 Feet Deep” is another attempt at a survival thriller where characters are marooned in a very monotonous spot and have no means of escaping. Rather than being a white knuckle fight like “Frozen,” it instead becomes about people just making things more difficult than they have to be.
Jonna and Bree are two sisters split apart by life and circumstances beyond their control. After Bree has decided to marry and move from her city, her ex-drug abuser sister Jonna resents her and fears she’s being abandoned. While swimming Jonna accidentally drops her ring in the bottom of the public pool, and as they both dive to retrieve it, they’re accidentally trapped in the pool under the fiber glass cover. With the pool closed for a holiday weekend, the sisters have to devise a way out, especially considered Bree is diabetic and without her insulin. Both women bickering at one another and arguing makes their situations so much more difficult than it has any right to be, considering character Bree devises an answer to their solution ten minutes in.
Rather than acknowledge the obvious common sense, “12 Feet Deep” ignores the apparent exit in favor of a confrontation between sisters. To make events even more irritating, the sisters are soon at the mercy of a janitor who has an irrational resentment toward the girls. Despite their efforts to convince her to let them out, she sees them as a chance to collect easy money. This introduction of a villain is unnecessary and incredibly far fetched, as it becomes so plainly obvious Eskandari and co are stretching the movie out for feature length purposes. It’s so much more harrowing watching the women look for a way out of this trap, the addition of someone taunting them and torturing them from above is just clumsy and comes off as obnoxious rather than tense, in the end.
By the time we reach the climax, the writers don’t obviously have a means of ending everything neat and tidy, so it’s so unsatisfying. If anything, at least the performances are strong, with Nora-Jane Noone and Alexandra Park offering up a pair of strong turns. In the end, though, “12 Feet Deep” runs out of steam and ideas very quickly, and results in a pretty miserable and forgettable survival thriller.