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Why Under Paris Is Finding So Much Success on Netflix


Why Under Paris Is Finding So Much Success on Netflix


Summary

  • Under Paris
    surprises as a trending hit on Netflix, blending cheesy shark attacks with environmental themes.
  • The French horror/action film features medium-budget shark mayhem, appealing to fans of absurd genre flicks.
  • The movie’s unique take on the shark subgenre, mixed with societal elements, attracts socially conscious viewers.



Picking what will be trending on Netflix can be a straightforward guessing game. Certain movies have so much hype that they are bound to hit those charts even if they are not critically received. However, occasionally, a movie pops up out of nowhere with little fanfare behind it that still manages to climb the ranks. This is the case with the recent Netflix Original French horror/action movie Under Paris, which managed to hit the number-one spot in almost every country, dethroning the sensational Godzilla Minus One.

This is despite middling reviews, but it is important to note why the movie has managed to catch the attention of so many and become a surprise hit for the platform. We will examine how a film about a Shark and its offspring invading Paris climbed the Netflix charts.



Under Paris Is a Unique Take on the Shark Attack Subgenre

Marine researcher Sophia Assalas is left devastated after a shark kills her team and her family, forcing her to withdraw into a more academic role outside of field research. However, the past catches up with her when a group of teenagers discovers that the same shark she encountered, Lilith, has somehow migrated from the Pacific Ocean to the River Seine in Paris. Aided by an activist group called SOS (Save Our Seas) led by Mika and river police officers led by Officer Adil, Sophia must battle against a dismissive government to protect the people of Paris from Lilith and her spawn before an annual swimming event.

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Bérénice Bejo plays the lead role of marine researcher Sophia. Bejo, while not a household name, is an accomplished actor in her native France and has seen critical acclaim in such movies as The Artist, for which she received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. Nassim Lyes, who plays Adil, is best known for his lead role in the 2023 action film Mayhem! Léa Léviant, who plays the young activist Mika, is given her first role of note in Under Paris. The movie is directed by Xavier Gens, who fans of the “New French Extremity” will know for his work on Frontier(s), though in the West, he is best known for the video game adaptation of Hitman.

Under Paris Touches on Themes of Environmentalism and Power Corruption


While the opening scene of Under Paris, with a shark attack in a sea overrun with discarded plastic, may seem too on the nose to state the movie’s environmental focus, this aspect soon becomes one of the production’s greatest strengths. Placing the power to save the planet on the younger generation, led by an enthusiastic leader of an underground environmentalist group, may feel slightly pandering, but it is not so egregious to take one out of the story. More importantly, it gives a youthful face to Léa Lévian that some viewers can relate to, embodying a self-righteousness reminiscent of the Stop Oil campaign.


Placing much of the push to stop the sharks in the hands of the young people also creates a power displacement, with the corrupt mayor acting as a villain unwilling to admit to a city in danger. The heroes/villains of the movie, along with its environmental themes, are very cut and dry, yet this simplicity also makes the movie easy to approach. Notably, Under Paris is not overly preachy or leaning one way politically, with Léa Lévian’s Mika being a flawed hero and Officer Adil offering a positive interpretation of law enforcement. Most importantly, audiences can attach themselves to the social elements but can just as easily brush them off for the more sensational elements.

Cheesy Shark Attacks in Under Paris Will Appeal to Fans of the Genre


Shark movies have almost become synonymous with the ‘so-bad-its-good’ category of movies; for every Jaws, The Shallows, or The Reef, dozens of cheaply made quick cash-ins that are purposely silly flood streaming services. Still, these movies are made for an audience in mind that will bite into anything with a shark attached to it, regardless of how absurd the premise is and how low quality the production is. Movies like Sharkula, Sharks of the Corn, and Sharktopus have an audience (as baffling as that may be to some outside of being obsessed with the niche horror genre).

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Under Paris is certainly on the more high-budget and high-concept end of shark-driven horror, but that is not to say that it won’t appease fans of the genre at its most absurd. Several shark attacks throughout the movie are over-the-top in the best way possible. Besides the swimming race seen in the trailer, there are wonderfully chaotic and silly sequences, including a close-quarters slaughter in the confines of a sewer and an underwater fight with a painfully obvious CGI behemoth (the special effects land somewhere between big budget and B-movie). While staying true to the environmentally conscious focus, the movie’s conclusion has a slightly cheesy tinge that ties it with another over-saturated ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ genre, the disaster film.

Those looking for non-stop ludicrous and nonsensical underwater biters will find that Under Paris is not quite on par with the Sharknado’s of the world. However, its willingness to get messy and sensational with its effects will still scratch that itch. You can go into the movie, brush aside the dramatic and social elements, and enjoy it as a ridiculous horror movie.


Under Paris may seem like a surprise hit. Both French and shark horror remain somewhat niche, and outside the type of content, one would expect to take the number one spot in almost every country. In addition, the movie was not that well received by critics. However, Under Paris captures the attention of the younger socially conscious audience concerned about environmental issues and those who want to see some shark-themed chaos. A Netflix Original, you can only stream Under Paris on the platform. So dive in, as long as you are okay with getting a little bit bloody!


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