Movie Name: The Shallows
Studio: Ombra Films
Release Date(s): June 21, 2016 (Premiere)/June 24, 2016 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Nancy (Blake Lively) is on the run from herself. The young doctor has taken off after the death of her mother and visits the remote beach where her parents spent time. After a day of surfing with fellow tourists, Nancy goes out for one last wave and faces death when a great white shark picks her as its meal. Wounded and stranded on rocks that are rapidly disappearing during the tide, Nancy must find a way to reach safety and survive.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, The Shallows is a horror survival film. The movie was released to positive reviews and a strong box-office showing.
There have been a lot of shark survival movies. Some are good like Jaws, some are average like Open Water, and some are embarrassingly bad like most of the made-for-TV cheap creature-of-the-week horror films that populate sci-fi channels. While on paper The Shallows seems like it could be a cheap horror film, the movie actually turns into a fun popcorn movie with some real moments.
The story is quite basic—girl gets trapped by shark. In fact, you wonder how they are going to keep it going, but the writers and filmmakers do a good job continuing to build the suspense. Maybe there is too many shots of Blake Lively’s injuries getting the best of her and banging against rocks and maybe the family drama aspect of the story is a little overblown (or underdone depending on how you see it), but for the most part the movie keeps you in suspense and leaves you wondering where it will go (I almost wish they didn’t have the opening sequence however that seems to give a little away).
Blake Lively is also strong as essentially the person who must carry the picture. I’m not a huge fan of Lively in other films but I do think she holds the film together and gives the movie heart. She might actually be a bit too old for the role because I imagined the character being twenty-three or twenty-four and Lively has grown out of her baby-faced roles…it is a minor detail, and it isn’t very distracting.
The movie does look really good. Shark special effects have come a long way from Bruce in Jaws or even more recent sci-fi horror fests like Deep Blue Sea. This combined with a great location is good. There was a lot of debate over the seagull that is stranded with Nancy on the rock, but I think it looks pretty good and works for the movie as a “Wilson” for her isolated character.
The Shallows might have been easily overlooked by many but I think it is a strong film with lots of appeal. There are some gross-out moments, but must of the gore is downplayed for the horror and terror of not knowing what is under the water. You often find yourself in her situation and thinking “what now?” as more and more problems pop-up for the character. The Shallows is better in that it does have you thinking and trying to survive with the character…you’re along for the ride and not just a spectator.