Something in the Water review – Bridezilla vs Jaws as shark stalks seagoing wedding party

<span>On a knife-edge … Nicole Rieko Setsuko (Cam) in Something in the Water.</span><span>Photograph: Carlos Rodriguez</span>
On a knife-edge … Nicole Rieko Setsuko (Cam) in Something in the Water.Photograph: Carlos Rodriguez

One memorable moment in Jaws, the granddaddy of shark movies, has Robert Shaw’s grizzled Ahab-esque salty seadog tell the story of his gnarliest ever shark encounter, when he and the shipwrecked crew of the USS Indianapolis spent days and nights in the ocean, being picked off one by one. It’s a terrifying scenario that, incidentally, avoids the perennial problem with shark films: how to keep people in the water. And while Something in the Water can’t claim to be a Jaws-calibre classic, it squares that particular circle very nicely indeed – though the crew here are far from hardened navy seamen: they are five young women attending a destination wedding in the Caribbean.

Lizzie (Lauren Lyle) is the bridezilla of the group, and her livewire mate Cam (Nicole Rieko Setsuko) is in charge of planning activities for the group of friends that include former couple Kayla (Natalie Mitson) and Meg (Hiftu Quasem), who split up some time earlier after a homophobic assault left Meg with PTSD. One of the activities Cam has in store for the gang involves taking a small motor boat to a cute little island off the beaten track. A decision they’ll come to regret.

The adventure elements all feel very plausible and believable dynamics play out between the gang, who make credible decisions that feel rooted in character rather than motivated by the demands of the plot, before and after the trouble starts. The script struggles slightly in the final act, finding itself and its characters adrift and treading water for longer than might be fully necessary, but writer Cat Clarke does a tremendous job for the first hour in finding neat ways to incrementally escalate the problems the young women must solve. Audiences hoping for lashings of graphic violence may be disappointed that not all of these problems involve gallons of blood – this is a relatively gore-free thriller – instead, it’s all aboard and anchors aweigh for some larky tension between likable characters who find themselves plunged into a nightmare scenario.

• Something in the Water is in UK and Irish cinemas from 21 June.