Something in the Water review – not likely to make a splash

Review by Billie Walker

Directed by

Hayley Easton Street


Hiftu Quasem Lauren Lyle Natalie Mitson


They call them “great” whites for a reason.


Just about peaked my latent thalassophobia.

In Retrospect.

Not a total belly flop but it won’t make waves.

A bridal party find themselves sharing the ocean with an aquatic killer in Hayley Easton Street's shark thriller.

Compared to some of the more absurd forays into the subgenre of shark-based horror – such as Ghost Shark and Netflix’s latest Under Paris – Hayley Easton Street’s Something in the Water keeps things relatively realistic. After a homophobic attack that traumatises Meg (Hiftu Quasem) and her now ex-girlfriend Kayla (Natalie Mitson), are both invited to a tropical wedding. Jaws may have homoerotic undertones, but in 2024 the shark movie is no longer queer-coded but overtly sapphic. Alongside the bride (Lauren Lyle) and fellow bridesmaids Cam (Nicole Rieko Setsuko) and Ruth (Ellouise Shakespeare-Hart), Meg and Kayla head out to a secluded island for Lizzie’s last day as a single woman. But – shocker – the hen’s paradise quickly turns into a nightmare when they find themselves stranded in the middle of the ocean with…something in the water.

In order for the lurking great white shark to pick each victim off, the panicking chum must be kept far from land or hope of rescue. Writer Cat Clarke does so by sinking their boat and having the bride declare she can’t swim – a statement that shatters any suspension of belief given her choice of an oceanic bachelorette location – leaving the group holding onto a float as a haunting fin skims the horizon over their shoulders. I can forgive the shark’s insatiable hunger but the contrived plot is a splash in the face.

Despite this contrived narrative and the group’s aggravating attempts at humour that land like dead fish – including multiple “that’s what she said” lines and a “not a today Satan” – Something in the Water succeeds in creating tension. By varying aerial shots, close-ups and the views from below of the survivors treading feet, the film evokes the uniquely unsettling feeling of feeling trapped in vast waters, and while no shark death has ever come close to Stellan Skarsgard having his arm ripped off mid-cigarette in Deep Blue Sea, there is a fair balance here between gargled screams in bloody water and the unseen losses. But for long-time shark fans, there is nothing new on offer.

The shark film has often attempted to highlight the violent hand of human corruption, and given the current state of the planet, it seems only right to mention water pollution while contrasting the idyllic ocean with deep sea horrors. While Under Paris went for the hyperbolic approach with climate change creating a Seine-dwelling beast that breeds at impossible speed, Something in the Water raises the topic in more subtle ways – the coral reefs are not the bright tourist attraction of the brochure, and straying from the main attractions has landed the bridal party in isolated waters with a hungry shark sick of snacking on plastic for company. But other than these comments, Something in the Water bobs along like many other survivalist shark thrillers, and without finding new ways to jump the shark, it’s just another drop in the subgenre’s ocean.

Published 18 Jun 2024

Tags: Something in the Water


They call them “great” whites for a reason.


Just about peaked my latent thalassophobia.

In Retrospect.

Not a total belly flop but it won’t make waves.

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