The Shallows (2016)3:20 PM
What was once in the deep is now in The Shallows...
This review contains Spoilers
The Shallows is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop, Unknown) and stars Blake Lively (The Age of Adaline, Gossip Girl) with Oscar Jaenada (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cantinflas). "A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills". Is The Shallows a Jaws for today's generation or is it just another trashy shark movie?
This may be the longest I have taken to actually sit down and write a review...it's not because the film is terrible because I actually really liked it but it's because my experience watching this film has been ruined by fellow audience members (more on that later). The Shallows is an extremely solid flick that is fun entertainment but ultimately isn't anything too special. I thought the trailers were awful and expected this film to be laughable but it was actually pretty good.
The most surprising factor about The Shallows is the outstanding performance from Blake Lively. Lively hasn't really been given a role to shine in before now - I liked her in The Age of Adaline but I think The Shallows showcases her acting ability - she shows fear, pain, happiness and so many other emotions. I think praise has to go to the writers for creating such a great character for Lively. Lively is basically the only character in this film so her performance had to be good to keep the audiences attention - it wasn't good, it was terrific! She is definitely an actress to watch from this point onwards.
The shark in The Shallows definitely does give Jaws a run for his money - the shark is well realised and has some scary moments. The Shallows doesn't have as many jump scares as you might expect but when they happen, they are certainly effective. The cinematographers probably thought they won the lottery when they got their hands on this location as the cinematography is beautiful and really captures how mesmerising the location is. I also liked how some of the camerawork was slightly different - POV shots, GoPro moments etc all helped make the film feel a little different. What sets The Shallows aside from Jaws is the fact it is a much more modern take on the story but what also sets it from the trashy Shark flicks such as Sharknado is that it actually takes itself seriously and is much more believable.
The story is pretty straightforward - a girl gets attacked by a shark but is stranded at sea on a rock and has to plan an escape. Some may say the story is a little too simplistic but I think the film has plenty of little twists and turns to keep it interesting. The Shallows does one of my favourite things good horrors/thrillers do - it adds depth. Not only do we actually get some development into Lively's character but there are some emotional touches and reasoning for why Nancy likes surfing - this makes you care about the character so much more - I won't spoil what these emotional touches are but there are definitely underlying messages about family. I also liked the twist to do with the opening sequence - the sequence makes you think it is the aftermath of all the events but when you find out the events are still occurring, the film feels much smarter.
So it all seems positive right? There are only a few small flaws with The Shallows. One of these is that the film does lack the shark and good do with some extra scares and tension. The running time is pretty short so I don't see why some extra tense moments couldn't have been included. The final sequence is a little bit where the film falls apart - it is unrealistic and feels like a different film compared to the rest of it - it isn't as thought out and feels like there are clear plot holes. The Shallows is good but it doesn't go the extra mile to be great and there is just something about it that makes it feel pretty small.
The Shallows is a very solid and entertaining film that is led by a superb performance from Blake Lively. The narrative isn't as dull as you would think - it is full of plenty twists and turns to keep it moving at a good pace. The visuals of the shark are excellent and the cinematography is excellent. The Shallows could do with giving the shark a little more screen time to add some more scares but the scares we get are effective. The Shallows does feel like a smaller film that will be discovered later down the line but it is definitely a pleasant surprise and one of the better films of the summer - I would go as far as saying this is the best shark film since Jaws.
Now, my feelings towards The Shallows and Lights Out (the next film I will be reviewing and I will talk more about this in that review) are slightly more negative than they should be - I liked both films quite a lot. However, what ruined these positive thoughts are fellow audience members. My trip to see The Shallows may have been the worst cinema experience I have ever had. Throughout the whole film, two girls took it upon themselves to whisper to each other - it was the kind of whispering that was too quiet to hear what they were saying but not loud enough for the whole audience to hear. Unfortunately for me, I was sitting next to them. I don't like confrontation so I refrained from telling them to be quiet but I did turn to look at them numerous times to give a hint. Why would you pay to see a film and talk the whole way through? These two girls really annoyed me and have really made my feelings towards The Shallows much more negative as I wasn't able to enjoy it to the max and wasn't able to give it my full attention. I am seeing rants about cinema goers become even more common on the internet so I think today's audiences need to consider 'do I have the attention span to sit and watch a film for at least 90 minutes' and if the answer is no, they should wait until the DVD. This experience was definitely worse than when I watched Lights Out but I am a frequent cinemagoer - I do not want to be put off what I love doing because of disrespectful audience members.
What did you think of THE SHALLOWS? Have you had many bad cinema experiences because of other audience members? - COMMENT BELOW
See You Soon! (and sorry for the delayed review)