The Shallows, 2016.
Directed by Jaume Collet Serra.
Starring Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen and Sedona Lodge.
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.
When I first heard about The Shallows, my immediate thought was that it would be a gratuitously shot film of an attractive woman in a bikini stranded on a rock waiting for someone to save her. I’m so delighted that I was wrong about this one! The Shallows is a tremendous tense thriller that will have you jumping at points and on the edge of your seat for the rest.
Nancy (Lively) is taking some time off from med school after the death of her Mother. She finds a secluded secret beach in Mexico where her Mother stayed and decides to enjoy the surf. After enjoying the water and the views she starts to head back to land when a great white shark attacks and she’s left alone on a small patch of rocks 200 yards from shore. At 86 minutes, The Shallows is short and sweet and packs a punch with its gutsy heroine. I’ve never been a huge fan of Lively but she carries the film and her characters resourceful nature is exactly what you want to see from a modern woman. The film moves at a brilliant pace and the threat to Nancy’s life and the fear and panic she’s feeling is always believable.
Jaume Collet-Serra isn’t known for making beautiful films (Unknown, Run All Night, the remake of House of Wax), but in The Shallows he seems to be in his element. The establishing shots of the beach and the surfing is stunning as are the overhead nightmare shots of the shark circling Nancy. The tension is what makes this film work so well. If you know what the film is about then you’re just waiting for the shark to attack, Serra slowly builds up to this and makes the attack more terrifying than you can imagine. Serra also seems to have thought about the majestic nature of the great white and doesn’t make it do anything that it wouldn’t naturally do. The deaths are also not played for the gross factor. One scene where a drunk man stumbles into the water and is attacked is shown from Nancy’s perspective, the look of horror and fear on her face is more terrifying than seeing what the shark is actually doing.
The Shallows gets a little far-fetched towards the end and its closing couple of minutes are a bit cheesy but it doesn’t detract from this masterfully well executed thriller that may once again give people the same frights that Jaws did.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★