The Shallows, 2016
directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
starring Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Sedona Legge
While well-paced and tense for some of its runtime, The Shallows unfortunately suffers from too many nonsensical moments and a shark that also offers bizarre decisions. Blake Lively suits up as the films only main character, a challenge no doubt, but the backstory applied to her is a thin veil that ultimately feels unnecessary and rushed. The main story, or really the main event, is simple enough: a girl named Nancy heads down to a secluded beach and quickly is hunted by a fierce shark. It’s simple enough, but as Open Water proved much more convincingly, not a whole lot is needed to make an effective shark thriller.
What might have initially turned me off the movie and set me back a little was the music video style editing early on. The unnecessary slow-motion shots, the overly-edited musical montages, what should have been a more simplistic setup seemed more like a high-budget surf video. It was unnecessary style above substance. Which, I understand, there isn’t a ton else you can do to quickly set the scene up, but along with the integration of cell phone animations, it just felt aimed at a younger audience (those darn kids). More impressive and enjoyable, I felt, were the brief moments in the found-footage style. While it would have been nauseating for the entire film, the camera was also a much more interesting plot device than, say, literally personifying a seagull.
In fact, I don’t think there is an animal that makes sense in this movie. Not that this was supposed to be a study of marine biology, but some of the concluding events with the shark are just silly. And, to compliment the film, it was really so disappointing because the films middle portion was a rather decent, tense setup for the finish. It’s unfortunately PG-13, so it wasn’t quite as gritty as one might hope, but it does have some rough moments. Blake Lively is solid, but unfortunately is the only real bright spot in this throwaway thriller.