Movie Review: “The Shallows” – Intense

Written by Caitlin Cooper July 06, 2016

the shallowsNothing gets you in the mood for summer like beach movies. Whether they be about surfing, travel, or sharks. I love shark movies. The good, the cheesy, the bad. I watch them anyway. Jaws is a summer classic that will never go out of style. Some shark films are straight thrillers, others have a much more meaningful story (like Soul Surfer). This summer’s shark film – aside from Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens – is The Shallows, and while it leans more towards being a thriller, it also gives us a little bit of an emotional plot-line to work with. But let’s be honest, audiences are there for the horror. And it is so intense.

In The Shallows, Nancy (Blake Lively) goes on yet another adventure, this time to find the secret beach where her late mom used to surf. It seems like paradise, a place so serene, a place where she can feel close to her mom again. But her grief drives her to surf longer than she should, and she surfs long after other surfers leave the beach. And, unfortunately for Nancy, it’s feeding time for one great white shark whose feeding area she stumbles upon. In hunting mode, the shark attacks her. Wounded and bleeding, she manages to swim to a small rock formation in the middle of the water. But with each hour the tide rises and the shark comes closer and closer. With no way of calling for help, and minimal beach-goers at this little-known beach, Nancy is forced to be resourceful and fight to survive.

“There are no sharks here.”

The Shallows starts of with a pretty leisurely pace, making it seem like a sort of vacation to the beach. And while it wasn’t a bad build up as it sets up some backstory for Nancy, I did feel a bit impatient for the action to begin. But once it begins, you are left sitting at the edge of your seat. It’s not really that gory, aside from Nancy’s wounds, some debris, and of course a lot of blood in the water. But the mere suggestion of the gore is enough sometimes. The shark almost seems to have a personality, or at least certainly high intelligence when it comes to hunting its human prey. Is it realistic? Probably not. But it sure makes this summer horror flick that much more creepy. The gore we do see, and the intense attacks by the shark was definitely well done. Also, it’s handy that Nancy was in medical school because it gives her knowledge and skill that certainly saved her life. We see her go from desperation to defeat to determination. That arc is a nice addition to a story that’s more about survival than anything. Though the climax of the fight is pretty far-fetched, it’s a cool pay off for an action film. The happy ending is a little bit underwhelming and predictable (Nancy of course finally returns to her family and goes surfing again), but I suppose like the beginning its intent is to be more subtle than in-your-face. Worth mentioning is the great visuals from the surfing sequences to, yes, the shark attacks.

the shallows

Usually at this point I’d talk about the cast, but the cast of The Shallows is relatively small. Blake Lively is the actor on screen the most, with other cast members having brief scenes for the most part. I can’t recall seeing a film where there’s only one main character and she has very little interaction with other actors. But Lively does well portraying a person trying to outrun grief who is forced to fight for life again.

“I’m gonna fight.”

The Shallows is this summer’s shark horror flick, and while the plot may not exactly be deep and meaningful, the story has enough backstory and character arc to keep you invested in the story. And, of course, the mere fact that the story is very much man versus nature keeps you hooked. The action is intense, and it’s a good way to spend a summer evening at the theater. It’s no Jaws, but it people who like the classic shark horror flick will probably enjoy The Shallows.

My Rating: 7/10

the shallows

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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