Shark movies are tricky. In most films they appear they are the villains (see Jaws) so directors and cinematographers attempt to make them really fierce creatures. Most of the time you can laugh them off because they become so cartoonish that it is funny rather than scary (see Sharknado). This is what trips up The Shallows. The shark here is so psychopathic that it becomes hilarious. This is too bad because it wastes one of the better performances of Blake Lively’s career to date.
After having been abandoned by her hungover traveling companion, Nancy (Blake Lively – Café Society, Green Lantern), who is taking a break from life and is on vacation in Mexico, forges ahead to the secret beach that her deceased mother went to when she was pregnant with Nancy. After being dropped off by a local (Oscar Jaenada – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Che: Part Two), Nancy is looking forward to a day of great surfing.
It is secluded and she only sees two other surfers all day long. Just after they leave the water Nancy is attacked by a shark when she accidentally enters its hunting grounds. The attack leaves a deep wound on one of her thighs. Nancy manages to swim to a set of rocks 200 yards from shore where the shark cannot get her. Because she is a med student she knows how to stop the bleeding.
Despite the fact that she is fairly close to shore she cannot swim there as the shark is still lurking about looking for its next meal. Besides the fact that her leg is getting worse with gangrene setting in and she is freezing, Nancy has to deal with the fact that once the tide rises she will be in the water and at the mercy of the shark.
Watching this film did make my think again about my proclivity to travel alone. Really makes you think about the trouble you can get into when you are off on your own. With no one really knowing where you are…plus gives us another reason to avoid the beach.
There are definitely problems with the tone of the film at times. These problems allow it to stray from taut thriller to farce territory. When it is at its best Jaume Collett-Serra’s (Run All Night, Non-Stop) film is tension filled and interesting. He manages to shoot the film, which happens in one location, in such a way that despite the fact that for 95% of the film Blake Lively is the only human onscreen it does not get dull. The sense of desperation felt by Nancy and her isolation is felt by the viewer.
This style of film does demand much of its leading lady and she shows herself up to the task. It asks plenty of her physically and acting-wise. Lively is natural in the scenes in which she is basically talking to herself and looks physically capable to do most of the things her character undertakes.
Where the film becomes completely ridiculous is its depiction of the shark. First of all, better CGI is needed when showing a shark on screen. It has to look more realistic. Plus most of its behaviour is completely ridiculous. Sharks would never stalk a human nor would they look for retribution. Yes, I am willing to suspend belief when watching a film, but you cannot push it too far.
-Shooting in The Shallows
-When Sharks Attack
-How to Build a Shark
-Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island
-Previews of Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, Don’t Breathe, Kingsglaive, The Bronze