THE SHALLOWS

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Pollard

Yes, yes, yes, this is indeed another shark movie, but don’t let that put you off. In a murky subgenre sea of misdemeanors, The Shallows manages to do what is an extreme rarity these days: be an actually great shark film.

Plot-wise, The Shallows keeps it remarkably, refreshingly simple. As the film opens, we find Nancy (Blake Lively) heading towards an isolated beach that held a special place in the heart of her sadly deceased mother. Once there, her plan is to go for a quiet, peaceful dip in the ocean with nothing more than her surfboard and her thoughts. Unfortunately for poor Nancy, though, her curiosity at the sight of a floating whale corpse leads to her running across a Carcharodon carcharias, better known as a great white shark, that hasn't taken too well to having its feeding time disrupted. One well-timed bite later leaves our protagonist with an ever-worsening wound as she finds herself stranded on a small rocky mound that’s only a couple of hundred meters from shore. The problem is, with the impending rise of the tide soon to leave Nancy’s safe haven submerged, and with no one in sight or even contactable, not to mention the threat of gangrene and battling the elements, the constantly-circling great white shark isn’t going away any time soon as it awaits its moment to strike at its next meal.

To describe The Shallows as minimal and small scale would be an understatement. In fact, you could easily list the cast as merely Blake Lively, a shark, and the wonderfully-named Steven Seagull, and the locations used for the film are basically just a secluded beach and the water in its immediate vicinity. Fear not though, for what the film keeps small when it comes to cast, location, and plot, it makes up for in high stakes, nail-biting tension as we see a classic survival tale of man vs. nature unravel through The Shallows' frenetic and sharp 86-minute runtime.

Praising Jaume Collet-Serra’s movie as a great shark movie is likely as reaffirming as saying that Sharknado is the best of the Sharknado movies – it is, but that isn’t really saying much. So with that in mind, not only is Collet-Serra’s The Shallows a truly exceptional shark movie, it’s generally an all-round exceptional movie, period. Complete with absolutely stunning scenery (with reportedly only 10% of the film actually shot on location – Australia’s Gold Coast - and the rest shot in a giant water tank) and some rather ingeniously-used editing choices, the tension involved here really does play out like the proverbial rollercoaster ride; following every moment of calm and tranquility is an adrenaline-inducing rush of fear and panic. Added to this, the use of the very shark itself is masterful. Not only is the expert killing machine largely kept menacingly under the surface, but the beautiful beast is actually an entirely digital creation, with the authenticity of the shark a real credit to the VFX team involved with this picture.

In the ocean of shark films out there, The Shallows really is one of the big fish. Since Jaws way back in 1975, there’s been literally only a handful of really great shark movies – most notably 2010’s The Reef – but this is one dip in the water that you won’t want to miss out on. A true standout film of the year, with a measured, accomplished performance from Blake Lively only further holding your attention, The Shallows certainly has bite by the bucketload and it's hands down one of 2016’s most intense, engaging thrill rides.

Special Features: Four featurettes / Deleted scenes / Previews

THE SHALLOWS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JAUME COLLET-SERRA / SCREENPLAY: ANTHONY JASWINSKI / STARRING: BLAKE LIVELY, OSCAR JAENADA, ANGELO JOSUE LOZANO, SEDONA LEGGE, BRETT CULLEN / RELEASE: DECEMBER 5TH
 


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