The Shallows: Edge-of-Your-Seat Scares in Otherwise Average Shark-Attack Thriller
Originally titled In the Deep, there’s a lot to love about Jaume Collet-Serra’s slightly cheesy but relatively solid and beautifully photographed killer-shark movie, The Shallows. With franchises like Sharknado having turned this once terrifying concept – see Jaws – into a cartoonish spectacle, The Shallows reaffirms the genre’s position on the scare-o-meter and brings with it the feeling of dread and terror of the deep blue sea.
The story follows Nancy (Lively); a med-student from Texas who is on holiday searching for a beach that her recently deceased mother spoke very fondly of. With her travel-buddy off doing other stuff, Nancy is left to her own devices and with the help of a friendly local, Carlos (Jaenada), soon makes her way to the secret beach.
Arriving to what can only be described as heaven on earth, Nancy wastes no time before diving into the blue waters. However, her blissful afternoon of sun, sea and sand is soon cut short by an arrival of a vicious Great White shark who was drawn to the bay by a dead whale. Having taken a bite out of her leg, Nancy is forced to stay perched up on a rock formation and must find a way to save her own life before being swept away by the high tide that is soon coming in.
With the exception of a handful of supporting characters, The Shallows is a one-woman show with Lively – most popular for her role as Serena van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl – showing a surprising amount of versatility and skill in carrying the movie through on her own and offers a lot more than what one would expect from this kind of set-up – a shot of her witnessing something terrifying off-screen is a particular highlight.
Things get off to an ominous start with a two-minute Skype call between the lead and her father spelling out a little too much to the audience, meaning there's no character-building throughout the film. But Collet-Serra manages, quite successfully, to build up enough dread leading up to the attack, inducing the picturesque scenes with enough anxiety and fear to keep audiences on edge. The CGI is mostly spot-on – although there are scenes where its presence is painfully obvious – and the gore is relatively effective.
It’s no Jaws by any means, but there’s still enough atmosphere in The Shallows the the end result is a surprisingly and effectively constructed summer-thriller.