I might have a bit of a peculiar taste in movies. I like weird films like The Belko Experiment and Split. And I LOVE thrillers/horrors with big fish, especially sharks. My ultimate guilty pleasure is Deep Blue Sea. So obviously I had to see The Shallows, the latest in a long line of shark films. Surf’s up!
The Shallows: plot
I know shark movies tend to have subpar plots, but The Shallows really takes the cake. There’s a surfer girl (Blake Lively), she surfs. There’s a shark, she (the creators have made clear the shark in this film is a she) likes to eat. Surfer girl gets in the way of food loving shark. Shark hates girl. Shark want to eat girl. Also, there’s a cute seagull (Steven Seagull). That’s it basically. I mean, even the IMDb has a very limited plot overview:
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.
DUN DUN DUUUUUN. A bit of backstory is added to Nancy to… I dunno, I guess to add length to the film? There are some minor other characters but they mostly are there for the shark to have something to do. Because it wouldn’t be a decent shark film without any casualties, right? People. Have. To. Die. In. Shark. Films. The more gruesome, the better.
Psychological shark film?
It’s clear the writers wanted something different for The Shallows. There are hardly any deaths, there is hardly any dialogue and it’s basically just one person versus one shark. It’s definitely not a horror, but more of a… psychological shark thriller? If that’s not a genre, it should be. Or let’s make it more universal: psycological monster movies. That way, films like 10 Cloverfield Lane could be part of this new genre. Star Blake Lively had her own reasons to be part of The Shallows:
My husband [Ryan Reynolds] did a movie called Buried and that was one of the reasons why I wanted to take on this movie so much, because I know how tough that was for him and how rewarding it was. It was terrifying and one of the most vulnerable things you can do but you gotta do it, right?
Sorry Blake, dear, but Buried was a far better movie. Although there were no sharks in Buried, so you have that going for you. Though there’s nothing wrong with Lively’s acting, it’s all just a bit… bland. It’s as if we’re watching Serena van der Woodsen on sea, not some kick-ass surfer girl with cool medical skills. And that’s also the entire point of Nancy’s backstory: to make clear she
A. wants to survive because her mother was a fighter and
B. has a medical background, which saves her life
The Shallows: Conclusion
The Shallows is no Deep Blue Sea or Jaws. The plot is flimsy. None of Nancy’s actions prior to meeting the shark make any sense and her backstory is terrible. But as soon as the shark is introduced, this is a fun, high paced film with some original takes on the whole genre. The shark is smart and huge and the underwater scenes are all pretty scary. It’s not as predictable as it could be so all in all, this is a nice film to add to the ever growing list of cool shark films.