Kristen Stewart stars in ocean-set "Alien" ripoff that needs to come up for air

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The jump scares are all wet in "Underwater," a waterlogged "Alien" clone that is as narratively perplexing as it is visually incoherent.  

A Slim Shady-haircut sporting Kristen Stewart stars as a mechanical engineer on board a research vessel some six miles under the sea, which springs a leak so quickly into the film that I thought the projector had been bumped and skipped ahead 30 minutes.  

There's no time for character introductions let alone development -- we're thrown immediately into crisis mode. If Stewart's character and the rest of her crew — including Vincent Cassel, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr., Mamoudou Athie and T.J. Miller, who provides comic relief no one asked for — don't abandon ship in giant wetsuits that look like spacesuits and trudge across the ocean floor to a sister station, they're all sleeping with the fishes.

That situation would be tense enough as is, if "Underwater" cared at all about its human characters. But director William Eubank is here to deliver a horror movie, which simply trades outer space for the ocean and follows the "Alien" model as his crew runs afoul with an assortment of deep sea demons. No creatures burst out of anyone's chest, but "Underwater" attempts to one-up the gag by having a character blow through one of the baddie's backs. Progress it's not.

There's a soggy message in here about man messing around with Mother Nature that is blown to smithereens by the powder keg finale. "Underwater" was shot three years ago and is just coming out now, on the heels of Stewart's flop in the "Charlie's Angels" reboot. It's not doing her, or anyone else, any favors. 

'Underwater'

GRADE: D

Rated PG-13: for sci-fi action and terror, and brief strong language 

Running time: 95 minutes

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama   

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