Sunday, June 26, 2016

[Review] The Shallows

The Shallows comes with three particular genre S's: Surfing, Shark, and Survival. While the previews made this film look like disposable summer fare, it actually turns out to be a gripping treat.

After some ironic foreshadowing ("This is paradise!"), Nancy (Blake Lively) arrives at a beautiful, secluded beach in Tijuana to catch some waves. The surf is excellent and the scenery is exquisite, but once the sun sets, Mr. Shark attacks. Nancy narrowly escapes with a gnarly gash on her thigh and gets stranded on an isolated rock. When help is nowhere to be found, Nancy must fend for herself.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra (best known for Neesian flicks like Non-Stop & Run All Night) takes full advantage of the physical (and painful) setting. Every bump, injury, and sensation is emphasized; from poisonous coral reefs to stinging jellyfish. It's piercing stuff, and some of it might make your own body tense up as you're watching the events unfold. And of course there's some nail-biting sequences of underwater peril, complete with extremely close-calls and shark jump scares. This thing is also greatly paced, and there's a slick use of timing in respect to low and high tide.

Blake Lively does a swell job in carrying the majority of the film by herself. Actually, I shouldn't say she's entirely solo, because there is a broken-winged seagull that hangs out with her on the rock (Nancy names him Steven Seagull), and his performance is pretty dang impressive too. Believe it or not, Nancy's character is even given a bit of meaningful backstory. She's currently a medical student, but after her mother died of cancer, she's become jaded and is considering dropping out. However, both aspects significantly come into play with her struggle for survival.

But yes, The Shallows is mostly surface thrills, but they're good and dangerous, fin-emerging-through-the-water surface thrills.

( 7.5/10 )

1 comment:

  1. I agree, The Shallows is fine summer entertainment with a good performance from Lively. And the Seagull was a great touch - reminded of Wilson in Castaway!