Film Review: The Shallows

11:10 June 29, 2016
By: David Vicari

*** out of four


Half way through the showing of The Shallows that I attended three audience members got up and left. Maybe one of them realized they had left the iron on. I really can't say for certain why they left, but I suspect the movie, about a surfer stuck on a rock in the middle of the water as a huge-ass shark circles she, was just too intense for them. Two really unsettling moments had just happened back to back before this trio dashed for the exit. My opinion is that the movie did its job with a take-no-prisoners approach, especially for a mainstream thriller. The Shallows is gory, shocking and incredibly suspenseful.

Blake Lively stars as Nancy, a former medical student who is mourning the loss of her mother from cancer. As a healing process, Nancy goes to her mother's favorite beach to surf the waves. The day goes fine...until Nancy is attacked by a great white shark. Even with a gnarly leg wound, she is able to get to a rock, but she is 200 yards from shore and the shark still wants its meal. So, its a battle for survival.

Lively is the whole show here and her performance is fierce. However, I could have done without the dance music and the flashy speeding up and slowing down film effects during the early surfing scenes where we see a digital Blake Lively commanding the surfboard. And speaking of digital, the CGI shark mostly looks pretty good, but there are a few times where it has that cartoon-y look. Still, it looks far better than any of the digital crude you see in a Syfy Channel original.

Clearly, The Shallows is no Jaws (1975), but you knew that. If you like The Shallows, then other good man – or rather woman – against nature films you may want to check out are the Australian made Black Water (2007) and Backcountry (2014) from Canada. 

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