Written by J. Weagle
Not just another day at the beach.
Ever since the release of Jaws, Sharks have become a sort of staple of the horror genre, almost making the predator of the ocean it’s own sub-genre. The main issue with that is despite the occasionally good one here and there (Jaws, Open Water) over the decades most shark movies land somewhere in between the terrible or downright laughable territory (Sharknado, Deep Blue Sea). The Shallows attempts to bring some legitimacy back to the shark movie genre yet keep some of the camp, and for the most part it succeeds.
The film stars Blake Lively as Nancy, a beautiful young surfer girl who travels to a remote beach that her now deceased mother use to tell her stories about when she was younger. Her goal is to enjoy the scenery, hit some incredible waves and reconnect with her mother. Instead she gets stranded alone in the water while a super angry and intelligent shark attempts to tear her limb from limb like it is holding a grudge. The premise is simple and despite some vague symbolism here and there it never attempts to try to be more then what it is, which is both refreshing and frustrating at the same time. Essentially there is no plot it’s just full on situational horror seeing Blake Lively get from one obstacle to the other with some jump scares scattered in between.
The entirety of the film rests on the shoulders of its star Blake Lively as she spends every frame on screen and has essentially no co-stars to boost her along. Because Lively is so likeable immediately (she just has one of those faces) it is easy to root for her without getting to know her that well. I can’t say if this formula would work with anyone else in the lead role but to her credit Lively does a fantastic job with what she is given.
Perhaps the most important thing about any shark movie is how does the shark itself look. This is one area where The Shallows really feels like a B grade film in that the CGI at times is horrendous and laughable, mainly near the end of the film where its presence becomes greater. Where as Jaws keeps the shark a secret exposing a fin now and then, The Shallows puts the shark directly in our faces which is sometimes really cool and sometimes cringeworthy. Despite the shark effects, the injuries sustained throughout the film look great and helps to really put us in the shoes of Nancy. At times we are right there with her stranded on a rock while a twenty five foot shark stalks around just waiting for that one mistake.
The Shallows is a simple movie with a simple premise that doesn’t always work but when it does offers one fun movie going experience. It’s a popcorn horror flick that will make you jump out of your seat and laugh at its stupidity at the same time. Certain moments tend to take themselves way to seriously for what the film is which is a B movie that would have been straight to home video without the star power of a Blake Lively. The beginning and middle offer some truly terrific moments while the ending seems to completely forget about any signs of realism and delivers a humorous battle between a beautiful blonde bombshell and a gigantic killer shark. It’s a short brief summer movie that lends itself to the big screen, just don’t go in expecting the caliber of a Jaws and you are sure to have a fun time with it.