Just stay on land!
Still reeling from the loss of her mother, medical student Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) decides to leave her relatively comfortable life and travel out to a secluded beach for some downtime. The beach she’s going to is so so unknown and mysterious, that it doesn’t even have a name, nor do the locals feel like giving away its location. Which means that Nancy’s going to have to deal with swimming and surfing alone, even if she herself doesn’t mind it. After all, there’s a few people at the beach that she talks to and gets acquainted with, but mostly, it’s just Nancy, her board, the water, and well, a little friend who may not have a name, but is definitely a shark. While she doesn’t spot him at first, the shark attacks Nancy, leaving her stranded and nearly 200 yards away from any sort of shelter to be found. So, using her own common-sense and smarts, Nancy’s going to have to rely on fate and luck to get her out of this predicament, all while ensuring that she stays alive and doesn’t become the shark’s dinner in the meantime.
Oh, and there’s an awesome bird to accompany Nancy the whole time. Honestly, if it’s not up for Best Supporting Actor by the end of the year, I’m going to be quite upset. CGI, or no CGI – it doesn’t matter.
The bird steals the show. Plain and simple.
Anyway, yeah. The Shallows is the kind of movie that you expect to be pretty bad, just judging by its premise and its talent on-board. While Blake Lively’s film out-put has been okay and director Jaume Collet-Serra is occasionally hit-or-miss, I guess the idea of sitting around and watching a half-naked Blake Lively lay around on a rock and try to not get eaten by a shark doesn’t seem all that appealing. Sure, Lively’s got a nice body to look at and a premise like that, when done right, can actually work wonders, but for some reason, the Shallows just seemed another lame summer blockbuster that didn’t have much to work with in the first place.
But somehow, it works out so well.
If anything Collet-Serra does all that he can to make this premise work, as limited as he may be. While there’s only so much one can do with a protagonist when they’re literally stranded on a rock for a near hour-and-a-half, Collet-Serra finds some interesting ways and avenues to go down, in order to make it compelling to watch, as well as fun. The movie’s focus itself hardly strays away from Nancy on the rock, when Nancy is in fact, on the rock, and it’s an effective device to use, because it makes us feel closer to her, as if we too, are stranded, without a paddle, and inches away from being shark bait.
And sure, the Shallows does get away with some silly things that most other movies in its nature wouldn’t be able to get away with, but that’s because Collet-Serra doesn’t focus on the dumb things of the story. The fact that Nancy does say a lot to her, or in this case, the wonderfully awesome bird, can get a tad annoying, as well as can some of the random conveniences that pop-up to make her stay on the rock much longer. There’s small bits and pieces of this movie that doesn’t necessarily work, but because Collet-Serra is actually able to make this very simple, very easy-to-understand premise, actually something enjoyable, it’s hard to really narrow-in on them and get mad.
After all, it’s a shark movie that’s not lame.
It also deserves to be noted that Blake Lively, in a role where she is, essentially, talking to and interacting with a bunch of CGI, special-effects, and green-screen, does a solid enough job that it makes you forget about some of these things while watching. This is actually a very hard role for most actors to pull-off, where they have to remain interesting, while literally having nothing to say, but Lively’s good at it; we believe her as this smart gal that’s resourceful and what the next best step to take is, which makes this situation all the more drastic and dangerous as it piles on and on. Sure, it helps that Lively herself isn’t all that bad of a gal to look at, but that stuff doesn’t matter because she gives a good performance in a movie that, possibly, may not have needed one to really work wonders, but hey, works fine with one, so why not?
Consensus: Simple to a fault, the Shallows is a low-key horror-thriller that works on building up suspension, to where it’s actually fun to get involved in the sometimes scary situation.
6.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire