'The majority of the movie is us completely freaking out'

By Christian Holub
April 24, 2017 at 01:30 PM EDT
Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures

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When it comes to summer terror, all the aliens and monsters in the universe can’t hold a candle to the jaws of circling sharks. This June, it will be director Johannes Roberts’ 47 Meters Down filling the shark-shaped hole in the summer movie calendar. Like last year’s The Shallows, 47 Meters Down throws its main characters into a precarious survival situation against bloodthirsty sharks.

After a cage-diving trip to Mexico goes wrong, sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) find themselves trapped deep below the surface, with air running short and only a cage between them and the circling sharks. For Moore, who is making her first excursion into the thriller genre, the time element added a unique spin to the classic “shark movie.”

“A ‘shark movie’ is just not my cup of tea. What I found most compelling about this film was this race against the clock and two sisters who have to trust each other innately,” Moore says. “They have no choice but to be there for another and try to get out of this situation as best they can.”

The two sisters take different approaches to their tense situation. While Kate has some diving experience, Lisa has none, which makes their peril even more stressful.

“The majority of the movie is us completely freaking out,” the This Is Us star explains. “Imagine somebody who’s at the bottom of the ocean, who’s never gone diving before, doesn’t know how to clear her air or what any of her equipment does. It’s the f—ing most terrifying nightmare on the planet to her. Most of the time I was shooting, I would be going through my [oxygen] tank in two seconds because I was hyperventilating.”

And so, more than 40 years after Jaws, sharks continue to reign supreme on the summer screen. Moore sees that as an indication of the lasting mystery of the ocean.

“It’s the fear of the unknown,” Moore says. “Jaws ruins it for everybody. I grew up in Florida going to the beach and I’ve been terrified of going into the water as long as I can remember. But it’s also thrilling because you don’t know what to expect. It’s a world we know relatively little about, and it’s a world that exists totally outside of us. That’s why people are consistently excited about the prospect of what possibilities the ocean holds.”

47 Meters Down hits theaters June 16.