The Shallows is a new thriller concerned with the scantily clad Blake Lively, fighting for survival from a great white shark while stranded alone on an isolated piece of rock away from the shore. It looked to reignite quality back into the creature feature subgenre, and seemed to understand conciseness by lasting less than 90 minutes.
The shark movie is something which has been in a lull for several years. I will admit, they’re a big guilty pleasure for me. I always keep my eyes out for shark movies and watch them when I can. I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually really liked the Australian supermarket shark movie Bait a couple of years ago. Part of my film upbringing included B-movies in the Hollywood DVD collection which featured two creature features and their sequels, such as Crocodile, Octopus, Spiders and Shark Attack. The movies were about as unique and original as their titles!
In any case, before going too far down memory lane, my point is that I was excited for The Shallows due to my love this kind of movie. Give me Deep Blue Sea over Jules et Jim!
Unfortunately, The Shallows was a disappointment. It was by no means a bad film, but I was left hoping for more. It’s a low key film, so it was never about a shark massacre, but more evocative of films like Open Water and The Reef. It was a smart idea to do this as the film understands how to execute tension and a sense of dread. The lack of a large body count meant that the sharks appearances actually made you feel something and allowed the film to not descend into silliness.
It’s hard to articulate my issues with The Shallows because it is a good film, and a nice return of shark movies in the mainstream. It has to do in part with how I’m not personally a fan of these stripped back shark movies because they aren’t very engaging and they soon run out of steam. The Shallows is guilty of these issues, and it’s not far into the run time before you’re left wondering where the pace went.
One of the film’s strongest positives is the fantastic cinematography. Not only does it make the most of the picturesque landscape, but it also understands how to shoot aesthetically pleasing underwater scenes. You only have to watch one of the film’s trailers to see it for yourself. It’s a noticeable strength which works to the film’s favour.
Blake Lively does well to lead the film single-handedly. The shark very sporadically outshines her, but she is convincing enough and allows the film’s realistic environment to work. The pain feels real; the injury detail is executed well. Blake’s shapely figure is put on show and there are several gratuitous shots which do not hide their motive of sexualisation.
Overall, I think Eli Roth’s upcoming Meg may be more up my street (though I haven’t forgotten about his abysmal Green Inferno yet). However, The Shallows is still a decent film which successfully builds tension and creates a captivating, if not a little slow, fight for survival.
Written by Luke Compton