Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra Written by Anthony Jaswinski Starring Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada & Sedona Legge
UK Release date – 12th August 2016
Film Review by Amaliah S. Marmon-Halm
If you didn't have a fear of sharks after all the shark-based thrillers and thriller-comedies that have come out over the last few decades, then it’s quite possible that this one will leave you never wanting to get into pretty-looking water or learn how to surf for that matter.
The Shallows follows a medical student called Nancy (Blake Lively) who is still reeling from the loss of her mother. She decides to travel to a secluded beach for some much-needed solace and soul-searching. Despite the danger of surfing alone, Nancy decides to soak up the sun and hit the waves. Suddenly, a great white shark attacks, forcing her to swim to a giant rock for safety. Left injured and stranded 200 yards from shore, the frightened young woman must fight for her life as the deadly predator circles her in its feeding ground.
What the film lacks in dialogue, it more than makes up for in being visually stunning. The crew really did craft a masterpiece, everything from the colour palette, the shots and the use of slow motion really add emotion and depth to the film. On the other hand, when the slow mo was overused, the shots became a bit too dramatic and there was an over emphasis on Lively’s echoed heavy breathing, which seemed to lose the emotion that the movie had worked so hard to build and suddenly became an overdone commercial for perfume. And we do have to mention that there a few too many shots of Blake Lively’s perfect, sun-kissed bottom. She’s perfect, we get it!
If you want to compare this film, it could described as being like The Revenant. Just in the middle of the ocean. And instead of a bear, you have a shark. Just like The Revenant, it looks like bad luck just loves to follow the protagonist to the point where you just wish they didn't move. Just as she seems to be in the clear, another blow of bad luck hits her and you’re left wanting to throw your hands up at the screen and yell “just why??” I heard one audience member say that the shark could be a metaphor for life – just as you think things couldn't get any worse, there’s a shark using your leg as dental floss.
Blake Lively does give one hell of a performance. Seeing as she is usually the only actor in the shot, she does a really good job of pulling you in and making you feel for her. It’s fair to say that this could be one of her best on-screen performances. However, there is a show-stealing actor who sometimes had the audience on his side rather than Blake’s – Steven Seagull and his epic surfing skills. To understand this, you need to see the film.
Regarding the ending, it was rather forced, clichéd and happy-lovey-dovey and seemed rather out of place for what the film was trying to be but it doesn't take away too much from what is a good film to watch on a slow weekend.
Overall, it’s a very enjoyable film and the first good shark film in decades. Not since Jaws have we had a film that doesn't involve a shark in a tornado or something, and genuinely be good. It has potential but with a horror, especially one with this kind of storyline, it takes work to maintain that suspense and there were times that it couldn't live up to expectations. Despite this, when that shark is on screen, you pay attention and want to hide behind your hands. There are times when you want to ask what kind of film am I seeing – a thriller, a light hearted drama, a teen flick but all in all, a very visually grabbing, entertaining film.