The Shallows

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It’s hard to make a great film with one person stranded in peril. The Martian was okay, but because Matt Damon was so funny, it didn’t have much drama. All is Lost is boring as hell. Gravity was a mess because of how the story was written and everything felt forced. Castaway was okay.

I’m guessing it’ll be the shark movies this is compared to instead of people stranded. And like every other kid growing up in the ‘70s, watching Jaws freaked us out when it came to the ocean. Heck, I even liked Open Water, which got bad reviews.

The premise of this works well enough. A surfer (Blake Lively) finds a hidden beach she’s heard about. She even has an old photo with her mom at the beach. Her friend has cancelled on her, so she surfs alone. She meets a few locals, but soon gets attacked by a shark. She ends up on top of a whale carcass, which is a great visual, although in one of many decisions we question…why would you go near a whale carcass in the water? Especially when you think about how many sharks are probably circling that blubbery creature.

Even though a lot of it is predictable, I won’t spoil what happens in the story.

Nancy (Blake Lively…more like Blake Deadly) is a med school student who has dropped out of school after her mother died of cancer. A pilgrimage to the beach her mom once visited makes sense, I suppose.

The film is beautifully shot, with interesting underwater photography and overhead shots. The surfing sequences would’ve been cool, if not for the techno music they’re blasting. It felt like I was watching a video in a rave club. Other times, the strings in the score were a bit annoying.

The movie had a few jump scares, but it needed more. We should’ve been on the edge of our seat more. A lot of that was hurt by the fact that at times, the shark looked fake. Now, her “Wilson” — a white seagull with an injured wing — is a bit of fun.

For those wanting to see the former Gossip Girl strutting around in a bikini, well…you get an early scene of that (where it looked like Bo Derek running in slow motion on the beach in 10). It never felt exploitative. Keep in mind, she gets attacked by the shark early on, so usually when they show her body in a bikini, it’s dripping with blood and has disgusting wounds she’s trying to fix.

The last 15 minutes of the movie are awful for so many reasons.

You know, Jaws takes place on July 4th weekend, so you’re probably better off watching that again.

I will give this an extra star for the way they killed a drunken thief on the beach.

2 stars out of 5.