Movie Review: The Shallows

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Rating: 1 star

A version of this review has been published in the July issue of The Spectrum Newspaper of USLS

Warning: This movie review may contain spoilers!

200 yards from the shore, med student Nancy (Blake Lively) finds herself trapped in a rock with  a hurt (and useless) seagull and a dead whale floating – and a shark ready to prey on her weak body. the-shallows-poster

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, The Shallows is a horror-survival film that is predictable and boring despite a lot of praise from critics. Collet-Serra resorts to quick shots and messy use of digital clock and GoPro inserts. The movie fails to build up mood and a scene even though the antagonist barely made appearance (Similarly to Spielberg’s 1975 classic.)

Written by Anthony Jaswinski, the film mainly focuses on Nancy’s survival on top of the rock making the film dragging and predictable. Plot-wise, the film was just expanded so that Lively could more exposure – which she did. The main props were the rock, Coral, jellyfish, and the rotting husk of a dead whale which became important at one point except for the seagull which is just sitting on the rock and which is also a probable metaphor for Nancy’s character.

The film opens with a boy wandering around the shore spotting a helmet with a GoPro attached to it. The boy plays with the GoPro and discovers about the shark attack. The film then cuts to where Nancy is riding a vehicle going to the secret beach.shallows

The protagonist has a mom who died to cancer backstory, which has made her to decide that she doesn’t want to study Medicine. This causes her to go check out the beach in Mexico that is very sentimental to her mother. Nancy’s med student training comes in handy when she later nurses herself after being bitten stitching herself with her necklace and her ability to turn her wet-suit into a tourniquet. Lively deserves praise for her acting which greatly improved during her Gossip Girl days, but given her wit and charm, she is better cast in comedies and romance films compared to a survival-thriller movie.

The plot itself is very off for me – especially how the shark died! Watching the first part of the film, I knew that Blake would survive in the end. Its just how it goes I guess. The other off part for me was when Blake shot the shark with the flare gun from the buoy – okay the shark was literally on fire which for me was stupid and unrealistic.

Nancy’s backstory is to common as well, similar to other films where someone dies of a terminal sickness or other deadly viral diseases. The plot is just not stable enough for me to write a good review about it. I’m also questioning myself why I don’t like the film since it was mostly good reviews.

Let’s face it, if we were all in Blake’s position, we would have died then and there. I rarely watch shark-attack films and I had high expectations regarding this film. Jaws was the film that set standards to all succeeding shark-disaster related films.


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