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Under Paris

A massive mako shark is found in the Seine river days before the start of a triathlon in Paris. It's a plot feels like it came straight from the Syfy channel, sandwiched between shlock like Sharktopus and Malibu Shark Attack. It doesn't sound like a serious movie. And yet...

This is a shockingly competent, pleasingly gory, wildly fun movie that belongs closer to Jaws and The Shallows than the movies I mentioned above.

I adore shark movies. My birthday is towards the end of June, so one of my personal traditions is that I will always go out and find a new shark movie to watch in order to celebrate. There's always at least one shark movie released in June.

And most of them are really bad! Like all horror movies, there's a lot of very cheaply made, poorly acted movies out there with laughable CGI and plots of varying incoherency. But sometimes, you find gems that remind you of why you were nervous about sharks attacking you in the public pool when you were eight years old, despite knowing that it was impossible.

Now, don't get me wrong. There's still plenty of cheese here. The basic premise is still that a massive mako shark has found her way up the Seine river and into Paris and the catacombs underneath. (Hence the title.) You have to be willing to suspend your disbelief and meet the plot halfway. Luckily, they make it easy to do so. The actors and the writing make the world as grounded as possible.

Academy Award nominated actress Bérénice Bejo plays our lead, Sophia, a scientist who studied sharks until a horrible incident in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This opening scene is absolutely gorgeous, by the way, with plastic bags floating behind divers like jellyfish and nets making me hold my breath as I waited for someone to get tangled inside them. Bejo is great at projecting not only fragile grief and trauma, but also a building sense of frustrated helplessness as people refuse to listen to her.

(Because, of course, no one listens to her. The Parisian mayor has definitely never seen Jaws before.)

Nassim Lyes is our co-lead and plays Sgt. Adil, a member of the River Brigade police force. Adil was my favorite character, and not just because Lyes is very easy on the eyes. He acts and reacts reasonably to situations, and is simply a great charismatic presence on screen.

Everyone treats the subject matter seriously and with gravitas, which makes the inevitable scenes of chaos and mayhem hit a lot harder than if it was just goofy and silly from the start. Without going too deeply into spoilers, the scene where we go into the catacombs for the first time has awakened brand new fears in me and was genuinely tense and upsetting. I didn't expect to be sad when characters died, but I found myself sitting up straighter and on the edge of my seat.

Overall, the CGI was very strong. We see a lot of Lilith, our shark, which I always appreciate. There were some moments where the CGI was shakier, specifically during some of the later attack sequences, but it was never distractingly bad. That's all I really ask for.

I do have two minor complaints. First, the movie almost never acknowledges whenever a major character dies. I understand that this is largely par for the course, but it's disappointing when someone that I've grown attached to simply disappears in the blink of an eye. Especially when they're underwater and are wearing masks and suits that make it more difficult to tell who is who.

Second, I needed a bit more closure. There's some very obvious sequel bait laid out, and it felt like the movie was more concerned about that than it was in actually finishing the story that it was telling here and now.

But overall, these are very small issues that lead to Under Paris stumbling a bit at the finish line as opposed to cruising past it.

Random Thoughts

This is a French language movie. I watched it dubbed, which was very well done. No complaints there.

But Fangirl, I hear you grumbling, mako sharks can't survive in fresh water! Paris is over 100 miles away from the closest beach! Yes, I know. They explain this.

There is a lot of ecological messaging that is very hit or miss in terms of whether or not it's successful.

I loved the little character trait of Sophia eating hard candy whenever she was stressed.

Under Paris can be found on Netflix.

An Honest Fangirl loves video games, horror movies, and superheroes, and occasionally manages to put words together in a coherent and pleasing manner.


  1. I only read the first paragraph but avoided the rest for fear of even little minnow spoilers, but...


  2. I'm not necessarily a shark movie person and so probably won't go out of my way to watch this (even though this review has me kind of tempted, much to my long watch list's dismay) but posts like this make me so happy this site exists! I would love a series of shark movie reviews from the good to the absolutely awful!

    1. Glad to tempt you! ; )

      That does sound like a fun summer series! I might have to poke around and find a list of shark movies I'd like to review...


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