Folks, the most terrifying Netflix doc of the year isn't about some sadistic serial killer or a haunted hospital or artificial intelligence utilizing your voice to ask your parents for money. It's about holding your breath underwater. Some 300+ feet below the surface.
The Deepest Breath, on Netflix, will make you think twice about picking quarters off the bottom of that Club Med pool. I watched this documentary over the weekend, in a dark hotel room, high on some potent whacky tobacky, and the experience was not a good one. Within the first two minutes, I was involuntarily taking gigantic quaffs of air-conditioned three-star Rennaissance hotel air. It's a documentary about free diving— that fringe sport comprised of lunatics who strive to dive as deep as possible and resurface on just a single breath. We've seen articles over the years announcing new world records or lamenting the many lives the sport has claimed. But the footage from this documentary literally takes your breath away.
Watching a body descend to 100 meters, as the water gets darker and darker, hearing the bubbles and clicks of an ever-deeper ocean, is spooky as all hell. There's a part at around 15 meters (50ish feet) where they no longer have to kick downward because the pressure shrinks the air-filled lungs to a point of negative buoyancy, and the body enters "free fall." This was the really terrifying thing to watch. These divers are simply falling to the bottom of the ocean with the help of gravity: not kicking or pulling, just… falling. Quietly. Like someone dropped a pair of sunglasses off the side of a boat. Except instead of Ray Bans, it's a human being.
Then they collect a tag to prove they reached a certain depth and head up, which is where the real challenge begins. For now, they're expending what little oxygen remains and kicking hard to get to the surface. And time after time, these divers black out in the last 20 feet! They're so close, and you think thank God, they've made it, only to watch them go limp just FEET from the surface.
Then they're hauled up and given emergency CPR in the water. Seeing the stricken, twisted faces of these unconscious divers as they're brought back to life was pretty jarring. They have no idea where they are or what's just happened. And this seems to happen a LOT.
Call me crazy, but if I were playing some sport that routinely ended with me receiving CPR, I might trade in my goggles and nose plugs for some white shorts and a croquet mallet.
If you have any fear of drowning, I'd say avoid this documentary. But if you're feeling like you want a night that will instill a greater appreciation for breathing oxygen, give it a shot. It's truly incredible what these divers are doing, but it feels both exceedingly dangerous and selfish. You'll see what I mean.