The Shallows is the story of Nancy, a med student from Texas, who goes out to Tijuana, Mexico desperately trying to come to terms with the death of her mother. She visits a secluded beach, perfect for surfing, but she soon discovers that she’s actually on the feeding ground of a great white shark. She is a mere 200 yards from the shore, but with the great white circling mercilessly around the small crag of rock she clings to, she will need to use all her resourcefulness to make it back to land alive.
The key to a successful shark film is adrenaline and The Shallows most certainly delivers on that front. My heart was pounding in my chest with every crash of every wave and I was continuously jumping from all the unexpected frights. The ominous music and sound effects kept me on the edge of my seat and my entire body was tense with fear for Nancy as she battled with the great white shark.
This horror-thriller is not for the squeamish or the faint hearted as it gets pretty grim at times. Watching Nancy ‘stitch’ up her own leg wound with the little resources she has is really very painful to watch, and no doubt more painful to deliver, but it is one of Lively’s best moments in the film. Known for playing the role of Gossip Girl‘s Serena Van der Woodsen, Lively really outdoes herself in The Shallows. This is definitely one of her best performances yet and she completely wowed me with her powerful performance. It’s obvious that part of the reason Lively was cast is because she’s a beautiful, leggy blonde. However, she proves herself to be much more than just another piece of eye candy with what is pretty much a one (wo)man show.
Whilst thoroughly gruesome in parts, the scenery in The Shallows is absolutely magnificent. The crystal clear, blue waters just make you want to go on holiday and relax in the sea.. Until the shark arrives. As with most shark films, you don’t see much more than a fin poking out of the water for the majority of the film. We only see the shark properly at around an hour in and the effects aren’t as bad as usual for shark films. That said, there was one moment when I thought the graphics were awful but hey, you can’t have everything.
Admittedly the film does start to slow in the middle as Nancy finds herself trapped on a rock deciding how to outwit the shark, but the beginning and ending have enough action to keep the adrenaline coursing through you throughout the film. The Shallows is less than an hour and a half long and yet it feels like a lifetime as you nervously wait for the next shock. The plot is simple, it is simply Nancy vs Shark, so it is impressive that they’ve managed to carve a seriously good film out of such a basic story line.
So is this the best shark film since Jaws? I would certainly say it is. There are numerous reviews out there berating this film but it’s the sort of film that critics love to hate. Both entirely predictable and yet entirely unpredictable, The Shallows is the shark movie that fans have been waiting for, and boy have they been waiting a lot time. If you consider yourself a shark movie fan, then The Shallows is a must-watch for you. Jam packed full of adrenaline-filled moments, continuous frights and powerful, realistic acting, The Shallows isn’t another dumb shark film. This is a truly scary horror thriller that will make you think twice before you paddle in the shallows again.
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