There’s something about sharks that horror film fans love. Perhaps it’s the forty year hangover of Jaws, or maybe it’s the fact that they’re giant monsters who can eat humans, that actually exist in the world. They also live in the water, a place where most humans aren’t as mobile, so they’re naturally quite scary as a threat. With the release of contained thriller The Shallows, it seems that fandom of these creatures from the deep has even survived three Sharknado films, or maybe it’s because of that trilogy that people are once again excited to see something a little bit more highbrow.
Surfer Nancy has been searching for years to find a place she calls ‘Mom’s beach’, the place her mother went when she was pregnant with her. Now she’s finally found it, and she’s going to make the most of it. When everyone else leaves the beach because they’re losing the tide, she decides to go out one last time, which as you might expect is a big mistake. She’s attacked by a shark, and finds herself stuck on a rock, only 200 yards from the shore.
Contained thrillers and films that only have one major role rely on two thing: how watchable the main actor is, and how interesting and inventive the events that take place are. The Shallows can put both of them down as a positive. Blake Lively is definitely talented enough for this role, which doesn’t really push her that far. She also pulls off some clunky dialogue that, while planting seeds that become relevant to story points later, could’ve been handled a little bit more subtly.
As for the events that take place, they are, for the most part, pretty interesting. There are a few different locations which change the aesthetic nicely, and there’s a natural and believable flow to everything that happens. There’s also a surprising amount of humour and heart from what can best be described as a secondary character, who’s identity I won’t reveal here.
There was just one major issue I had with this film, and once it was in my head, I couldn’t let it go. If you know anything about nature, you know that everything that happens in this film is completely unrealistic. Just a quick warning, there are very minor spoilers ahead in this paragraph, but nothing that will detract from your viewing of the film. Early on, we find out that the shark has killed a whale, but it decides to pursue Blake Lively anyway. This is implying that the shark has malicious and supernatural intent, because no animal in nature will give up an easy meal to follow something that’s still alive, and will provide a lot less meat. As much as this film had some good things in it, I simply couldn’t take anything that happened after this point seriously.
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