Under Paris – Turning Parisians into Shark Snacks

MOVIE REVIEW – Nowadays, there are as many shark movies as there are fish in the sea. Unfortunately, most of them are not only terrible but proudly so. This can be attributed to the success of Sharknado or the big-budget B-movie The Meg, which have contributed to the flood of cheesy films that reappear every summer. There’s no monster too rubbery or performance so amateurish that it can sink these slapdash creature features. When audiences crave aquatic absurdity and bloody scenes, it’s no wonder studios, streamers, and TV channels keep throwing more bait into the water.


Netflix’s latest film, Under Paris, while still swimming in the lower echelons of shark films, is at least a notch above the genre’s worst entries. Compared to the average Jaws knockoff, this French thriller is practically a masterpiece. Make no mistake, it’s a very dumb film that treats its ridiculous premise—an army of man-eating sharks in the City of Light—with utter seriousness, which doesn’t make it any less dumb. The basic competence and visible effort to offer more than just laughs elevate it somewhat in the shark film food chain. It doesn’t settle for being “so bad it’s good,” which somewhat compensates for the fact that it’s still far from being actually good.



A Parisian Nightmare: When the Fish Eat You


Much like Steven Spielberg’s summer classic, this clone tries to spin a descendant story, following a mutant mako shark’s journey from the Thames to the Seine. (The opening quote is from Darwin—perhaps too lofty a start for a thriller focused on feeding a predator.) Supposedly, global warming and pollution are to blame for the shark’s newfound ability to survive in fresh water. In this eco-friendly monster movie, the term “bleeding-heart environmentalist” is meant quite literally.

Naturally, the mayor (Anne Marivin) wants to continue the big triathlon event in the river, even as half-eaten bodies begin to surface. (It seems predatory capitalism is not just Amity Island’s problem.) The French film’s equivalent of Matt Hooper (played by Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws), Sophia (Bérénice Bejo from The Artist), is a marine biologist who lost her entire team to the beast three years earlier. The film takes her grief seriously, though that doesn’t mean we have to. Bejo’s commitment to this trash film is like a poignant SOS: as viewers, we want to save this underrated, rather charming French actress from the jaws of bad melodrama, but alas, the movie gobbles her up.



A Buffet of Characters on the Sharks’ Menu


There’s also a Brody-like character: Adil (Nassim Lyes), the tough cop who initially clashes with Bejo’s heroine but eventually finds they have more in common than they thought. Unfortunately, Under Paris lacks a cynical, hardened veteran shark hunter in the vein of Robert Shaw—or anyone truly interesting. Instead, we get a bunch of side characters who are likely to end up on the sharks’ menu with a slice of lemon: cops, scientists, and animal rights activists, spending most of their time staring at little shark icons on screens before experiencing what it’s like to be fish food. The gore will not surprise anyone familiar with the work of Xavier Gens, a noted director of French horror films. However, the violence here is more cartoonish: at least three scenes feature digital bodies being tossed into the air and then chomped by equally digital sharks.

Visually, Under Paris is as blandly sterile as most Netflix films. At times, the underwater scenes feel like an “Under the Sea” screensaver, except here the sharks eat people. At least we can be thankful to see everything happening underwater. As for the sharks, they look credible when gliding menacingly, but cheap and CGI-like when they attack. This clumsiness reminds us that motion still confounds even the best CGI wizards.



Parisian Triathlon with Sharks – The Extra Challenge Is Not Getting Eaten


Under Paris manages to be somewhat entertaining because the creators deliver their absurdities with a straight face, moving from one bloody, over-the-top scene to the next. When it’s funny, it’s unintentionally so, which is far better than the deliberately campy goofiness of films like Sharknado. And when it delivers bloody horror scenes, it does so without compromise, such as the shark attack in the flooded catacombs (yes, the sharks swim there too), which is only surpassed by the film’s ridiculously destructive finale.



Parisians into Parisian Delicacies


Given that the bar for shark movies is at the bottom of the ocean, it’s not much of an achievement that Under Paris clears it. If your interest in the genre extends beyond the dumb antics of Sharknado, there’s some silly fun to be had watching overqualified French actors and actresses as a mutant mako shark chases and devours them along with other Parisians in the Seine. Just don’t expect too much quality entertainment or genuine horror from Xavier Gens’ digital bloodbath.

-Herpai Gergely “BadSector”-




Under Paris

Direction - 5.2
Actors - 5.6
Story - 4.4
Visuals/Music/Sounds - 6.2
Ambience - 4.8



"Under Paris" is another mediocre shark movie that targets the waters of Paris. Although it's slightly better than the worst entries in the genre, the ridiculous premise and unserious execution make it hard to take seriously. If you enjoy B-grade shark horror films, you might find some entertainment, but don't expect genuine thrills.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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