The Shallows Review

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen

The Shallows starts out as a voyage of personal discovery for the reliable and very organised Nancy Adams played by Blake Lively. Following the death of her mother she has decided to take some time to reassess her life, find what is important to herself and do something that is completely out of character. This leads us to Nancy finding a small, secretive Mexican beach that was visited by her mother way back in 1991, like that was a long time ago (I’m feeling old now!).

The good times begin; great location, gratuitous Blake Lively close-ups, gratuitous scenery, and filming of waves that would put a nature documentary to shame. Life is good, until that is Nancy paddles into the feeding zone of a particularly vindictive shark. What follows is a small shark taste of Nancy’s leg leaving her stranded, first on the whale that succumbed to the shark’s attack, then on a small rocky outcrop which only appears at low tide. So not only is she injured but she also only has a limited amount of time to either get rescued, escape or get rid of the shark. Not good odds on any of them; an isolated, deserted beach, an injury that slows her right down and no tools or weapons.

There are little moments of hope that are shown and then taken away but it is mainly the tension and threat that is used as it is raised, peaked and released multiple times throughout the duration as different issues come to the fore and recede all the while the situation is becoming more dire for Nancy culminating in what looks like her having no options left whatsoever. But as you know, necessity is the mother of invention….

The film looks great with some vivid colours, there are some inventive effects showing pop-out depictions of mobile phone screens and watch faces superimposed on top of the image. The shark sometime appears realistic, others not so much and I’ve never been a fan of giving the shark noises I always believe that they are silent, too many Shark-Week programmes watched possibly…..

You know what you are going to get from this film and it doesn’t try to be anything else. There is going to be threat and danger, jump scares and life or death decisions and it delivers on all these but never takes it up to the next level, almost like going through the required motions for a film like this, never breaking much new ground (or waves).

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