Plot – A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills – The Shallows.
Director – Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring – Blake Lively
Released – 2016
Playing on a primal fear many people share when entering deepwater shark attacks. The Shallows Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra is exactly what it promises to be. An above-average B-Movie creature-feature with a decent level of suspenseful scenes, some wonderful CGI effects work, and enough blood to keep most horror fans happy. Not only that, but it does so with enough style and suspense to overcome the limitations that a small cast and just singular location can cause.
On-screen alone for most of the film, Blake Lively does a stellar job in the lead role as Nancy, a woman looking to connect with her departed mother by visiting the beach that her mother did when she was a young woman. Her character isn’t afforded a great deal of depth, but this isn’t something that the plot calls for.
It does, however, highlight the mental struggle and an obvious physical struggle she goes though dealing with this situation on her own and the small amount of development she is provides does enough to make Nancy a sympathetic character, giving up on her medical studies because of the loss of her mother and just like her, Nancy wants to fight till the bitter end.
This is partly the reason the movie’s suspenseful parts work so well. Without this sympathetic character, we have no one to root for and in the end; you stop caring if they live or die. Something that most modern creature features forget.
In terms of direction and cinematography, Collet-Serra did exactly what was needed, mixing gritty action shots with some beautiful sweeping aerial ones of the ocean and the picturesque scenery, while some excellent underwater camera-work really helps to increase the tension created by the film’s cat-and-mouse between Nancy and an almost vengeful shark.
I constantly scanned the seas for the shark in pure fear for Nancy’s life. Here’s where the great CGI work came into play. The shark is one of the most realistic I’ve seen in a monster movie for a long time, while the same can be said for the injuries and deaths that happen over the course of the movie.
The only real negative I found while watching the movie was that most of the shark attack happened off-screen, with the true brutality never shown and while I applaud the decision to focus on Nancy and she experienced, I can’t help but feel the film would have benefited from ramping up the ferociousness of the shark and showing just how helpless humans can be when in their territory.
Even Jaws with its famously bad plastic shark showed more blood and guts. But, overall, The Shallows is one of the stronger and more rewarding shark movies of the last few years and unlike most, it’s definitely more re-watchable.