‘Underwater’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: What Was The Creature? Is It Lovecraftian?

It’s never a good day to float around in the uncertain cold of vast, deep space. And since the brutal depths of the dark ocean are no different, the Kepler crew—engineers, biologists, and the like—are in no less peril than they would’ve been had it been their spacecraft that malfunctioned. We’re discussing Underwater, William Eubank’s claustrophobic deep sea horror that trespasses into the sketchy realms of the Mariana Trench. The 2020 Kristen Stewart-starrer holds your head down and submerges you into an experience that’d have you praying for the survival of the unfortunate Kepler crew.

Spoilers Ahead


Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

Norah’s got one thing right: nights and days blend together when you spend enough time underwater. For Norah and her coworkers, employed by the Tian industry’s deepwater drilling side of the business, even months pass by without them knowing what day it is or if the sun’s out. A self-diagnosed cynic, Norah can’t possibly imagine the tremendous amount of hope that’ll keep her going through the disaster that’s about to befall Kepler 822. A massive earthquake hits the system that’s intruded into the kind of oceanic depths that aren’t very human-friendly. As Norah runs for her life and saves as many people as she can, the chances of them making it out alive get slimmer by the second. Hollywood has gotten us accustomed to the terror that surrounds the bizarre mysteries of the Mariana Trench. But Norah and Rodrigo can’t really fathom how sadistic the murky water and its vicious dwellers can be as they head out to find escape pods. Before daring to squeeze through the narrow opening of the crumbled corridor, they rescue Paul out of the rubble. Captain Lucien isn’t one to leave the ship behind and look out for himself. And when the team of three gets to be a team of five with the inclusion of the nervous biologist Emily and her friend Smith, they are compelled to figure out a way through the mess that they are not trained to handle.


What Happens To Rodrigo?

Norah didn’t wake up expecting to shut the door on people, knowing the ones on the other side of the safety chamber would die from the impact of the water. She didn’t think she’d have to crawl past her coworker’s corpse, still warm to the touch. But when something unthinkable happens, it gets that much more essential to shatter one’s personal fears and rise above them—actions over emotions. With the structural integrity of Kepler’s core in shambles, the group must embark on a journey that none of them, especially Emily, ever expected to have to experience when they signed up for the job. When the choice is between being blown to unrecognizable pieces with the core’s imminent meltdown and taking their chance walking to the Roebuck station, it’s not really a matter of choice anymore. If it wasn’t already endearingly evident from the way these people go out of their way to help each other, it’s teamwork that keeps the Kepler survivors going. Through the sudden quakes of the ground they’re standing on and the incomprehensible growlings all around them, they’ve got each other’s backs. It’s Smith’s reassuring words of courage, devoid of a superiority complex over his gusto in the face of unimaginable danger, that encourage Emily to take the leap of faith and land on the cargo lift. But to get out into the ocean wearing questionable pressurized suits, someone had to have made a sacrifice to make sure that the team remained safe. It takes the team a bit too long to realize that, for the sake of everyone else, Rodrigo hid the fact that his helmet was compromised. Crumbling into pieces from the impact of the water pressure, Rodrigo’s sacrifice opens the door for the group to get closer to the midway station.


What Was The Creature That Paul And Smith Found?

Freaked out as she may be, Emily’s observant. She’s quick to pick up on Lucien’s faltering state of mind as the acceptance of the possibility of death fills it to the brim. She’s the first to open up, and only then do the rest break the uncomfortable silence. The Kepler is, of course, far from steady. When it comes time for this bruised and terrified group to send out Paul and Smith to check out the source of the distress signal Lucien’s just received, they’re as brave as ever. It would’ve been smart of them to turn around and head back when they found the corpse of the man in the pod, but that doesn’t make for very good horror. What they’re attacked by and later bring back to base is a creature that’s burrowed into the corpse. From the looks of its talon and the sound of its fury, it’s no friend to the group. And if it has friends, which it does, Lucien and his crew better keep an eye out for a whole swarm. The situation they’ve found themselves in is anything but kind. The united war against an unknown threat has brought them closer, but even they know that their group is bound to get smaller with every hurdle they cross. No one knows when their number will be up. Dug out of a grave of concrete and saved from sure death, Paul didn’t think that it’d be a mysterious creature that he’d lose his life to. Seeing their friend ripped to shreds and his blood filling up his helmet, the group is reminded of their helpless mortality, something they can try to run from but will eventually have to give in to.


What Was The Creature?

There’s been a great deal of speculation around the origin and identity of the creatures in Underwater. Other than the gnawing suspense around the matter of its origins, the creature’s elusive nature in the film has only elevated the mystery surrounding it. The group’s first brush with creatures that Emily thought were of an unknown species went much better than their experience with the gigantic oceanic monster. The towering beast with more tentacles than you can count made it so that Lucien had to sacrifice himself to save Norah’s life. It was bad enough that Smith got bashed by a random chunk of the Kepler when it burst, but to be pulled into a cave by a creature surely didn’t make things any easier. While the script stuck to calling the towering beast Behemoth, by the director’s own admission, the creature is inspired by H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, the Great Old One. Given Lovecraft’s Cthulhu is a god of sorts, almost a protector of the unknown depths of the ocean, it makes sense that Emily saw its actions as retribution. They’ve drilled too deep–invaded a territory that they weren’t wanted in–and now, the ocean wants payback. By breaking in and disturbing them, the Tian Industry crew has awakened not just the Great Old One but the smaller creatures that may just be the Deep Ones, an amphibian race loyal to Cthulhu.


Does Norah Sacrifice Herself In The End?

Underwater is pretty unabashed in its way of holding mankind accountable for its mistakes, even when the repercussions are as extreme as death. Norah and the people she’s come to know rather closely amidst the mayhem are not necessarily bad people. But they had to have known that Tian Industries was in the wrong. They might not have shared the exact same greed that’d make their employers dig too far into the oceanbed, but even their personal reasons didn’t justify the part they took in the project. Push it hard enough, and nature will fight back. It’s absolute denial that’s kept the likes of Lucien going. Chances are, Lucien and the company he worked for were well aware of the existence of the creatures. We’ve seen him blatantly deny the very obvious sounds that the creatures were making, chalking them up to the aftermath of the earthquake. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch at all to entertain this possibility, considering he’s been lying to his crew about having a daughter to go home to. And that brings me to my next point: the kind of people who’ve volunteered to live underwater for months at a stretch. Grief tied most of them together. Lucien’s a father who’d lost his daughter when she was just 14.

And Norah, cold as she might’ve been, was grieving the death of her fiancé, who had dived into the ocean one day and never came back. It only makes sense that Smith, who was best friends with Norah’s fiancé, didn’t just leave her alone when she decided to handle her grief in her own way. While having mysterious creatures pick them off one after another would’ve been an understandable way for Underwater to get its point across, the film does go the extra mile to humanize these characters. They’re flawed, sure, but they’re not incapable of the emotions that make a person human. What else could it have been if not a testament to her feelings when a rambling Emily dragged a practically unconscious Smith across the ocean bed?

Norah’s been quite aloof all along, at least about the source of the pain that makes her press the center of her chest from time to time. But as the bravest one out there, Norah’s strength couldn’t have stayed limited to just her savior complex. She did open up, even if just for a fleeting moment, when she felt that it was worth reliving the tragedy if it meant that it’d give Emily some hope. She’s been a fighter all along—so intent on keeping her friends safe that she dug her way out of a creature’s stomach when she was swallowed whole. Evading death every step of the way and finally seeing the green light welcoming them into the Roebuck station must’ve felt like victory to the remaining three. But seeing countless creatures hanging upside down like bats in a cave, they weren’t sure if they could make it. The journey’s always been about making it to the surface. And for that, they needed the escape pods. It’s in the ending sequence of Underwater that we see just how much Norah’s come to care about Smith and Emily.

The ocean had once stolen her shot at having the life that she wanted. When she keeps mum about her escape pod being faulty and sends Smith off to safety, she’s essentially getting her revenge by making sure that the ocean doesn’t claim another person’s shot at happiness. If it takes punching Emily just so that she doesn’t stay back, that’s what Norah will do to give Emily and Smith a chance to find out what life has to offer now that they’re in love. Judging by the sight of the swarm of creatures heading toward Emily and Smith’s pods, there was no way they would’ve made it without Norah’s sacrifice. She took to the sea on foot to avoid being blown to pieces, only to choose the same fate to make sure the impact of Roebuck’s meltdown killed the swarm. Norah dies to protect Emily and Smith, the only two people who make it to the surface, which essentially means that the creatures killed off everyone else who tried to escape.

But did the creatures die? While it’s possible that the Deep Ones would’ve been impacted by Roebuck’s core explosion, the same might not be the case for the colossal creature, Cthulhu. I doubt that an explosion would’ve been enough to kill off an Eldritch god. But none of these are the lingering contemplations that Underwater aims to leave us with. For a company that has so little value for human life that it’d bury the news of the entire ordeal just to keep its name clean, chances are, it’s only a matter of time before Tian Industries builds a whole new base. They’re not the ones running at a loss, and if a disaster doesn’t affect them directly, there’s nothing keeping them from repeating the same mistakes over and over again.


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Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjeehttps://muckrack.com/lopamudra-mukherjee
Lopamudra nerds out about baking whenever she’s not busy looking for new additions to the horror genre. Nothing makes her happier than finding a long-running show with characters that embrace her as their own. Writing has become the perfect mode of communicating all that she feels for the loving world of motion pictures.

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