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The Shallows: A Fun Thriller That Knows Exactly What It Is

July 26, 2018

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The Shallows is a perfect “shark” movie because it doesn’t take itself seriously and provides solid escapist fun. There is something comforting about a movie that simply wants to entertain and has no plans for future sequels or spin-offs. It is unpretentious and ridiculous, but is actually good and you can tell skilled filmmakers thought a lot about the simple story.

The Shallows revolves around a surfing trip gone awry in a tropical paradise. The lead character Nancy (Blake Lively) is reeling from the loss of her mother, so she takes a break from medical school and travels to a mythical surfing ground that her mother loved to surf. The beautiful and isolated area is nearly perfect until Nancy finds herself attacked by a shark. Normally, the shark wouldn’t be in the shallows but it killed a whale and is using it as an all-you-can-eat buffet as it slowly floats ashore.  Luckily, it is low tide and Nancy is able to climb atop some rocks about 200 yards from shore. From there, she and a seagull deal with repeated attacks, blood-loss, high tide and stinging jellyfish.

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The Shallows is fully-aware that it is about a beautiful woman in a bikini battling a CGI shark. It is pure pulp shenanigans that happily shows enough skin and shark attacks to appease everyone. The 87-minute runtime is lean on backstory and moves confidently from one set piece to another. I loved how Nancy wasn’t some naive American in a foreign land, and I appreciated that she was able to speak just enough Spanish to make it seem like she actually cared about fitting in. A lot of credit goes to Blake Lively because she is in pretty much every frame of The Shallows and is able to pull off the physicality and act through the overly melodramatic subplot.

What makes The Shallows better than the majority of other shark movies is the villainous shark. It’s a mean motherf**ker that defies all shark-logic and simply wants to destroy and eat anything that is in its territory. I love that it plays a game of cat-and-mouse with Nancy and has no plans on hunting easier prey. The shark has tunnel vision for Nancy and its not leaving until she becomes breakfast, lunch or dinner. I respect its tenacity and I love how it becomes a straight up horror villain that only wants to search and destroy. I’d rank this shark alongside the killers in Jaws and Deep Blue Sea because it looks great and is believably intimidating.

If you are in the mood for a fun thriller that doesn’t take itself too seriously I totally recommend The Shallows. It knows what it is and doesn’t care that it features a shark that constantly changes in size. Director Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop) should be proud of his work and I’m stoked to see what he does next.

 

 

 

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