THE SHALLOWS had been on my cinema radar for a while — I’ve always been a fan of shark films, especially Jaws and Deep Blue Sea, and this one looked like it would be a fun watch. I’m happy to report that it was indeed a fun, if slightly terrifying, watch, and I’m glad I saw it on the big screen. There’s nothing quite like seeing a mouth full of sharp shark teeth coming at you in lifelike large scale!
The plot of THE SHALLOWS is as straightforward as they get: a girl, Nancy, travels to a secluded, secret island in the hopes of some serious surfing and revelling in the memories of her deceased mother. Things soon turn scary when Nancy is marooned a short distance from the shore and a Great White shark is circling — there really is no way out, and it quickly escalates into a woman vs. shark fight for survival. Hold onto your hats for this one, I guarantee you’ll be on the edge of your seat!
Initially I did have a few reservations about THE SHALLOWS, mainly because of its one-woman show in the way of Blake Lively, accompanied by a beach and a wetsuit (boys: you’re going to like this film). Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Blake Lively — I really enjoyed her performance as Serena in Gossip Girl — but I was unsure as to whether she could pull off such a tense, serious role in THE SHALLOWS. Surprisingly, she did, and quite well, too. There were a couple of scenes that were a little ropey, but overall she did a great job with everything she had to do. No doubt the shoot was pretty gruelling, so kudos to her for dipping her toes into such a gritty role.
THE SHALLOWS never feels boring, even though there isn’t an awful lot happening for a good portion of the eighty-six minute runtime. Nancy is literally stranded by herself for a while, injured and at the mercy of the elements with no way of contacting anybody. It’s interesting to see how people behave in this situation, and I’m quite sure I would have been absolutely useless had it been me. Instead of panicking and giving up, Nancy uses her brain and her skills to ingeniously try to survive, and that’s where the film best utilises its script. The ending is ludicrous and slightly on the ridiculous side, but I’ll forgive it seeing as it harks back to several shark features of time gone by. It’s no Jaws though, that’s for sure.
THE SHALLOWS is well worth an hour and a half of your time, and it’s good to see sharks at the forefront of terror cinema again. For me, there’s nothing quite so scary as to what might be lurking under the surface of the ocean, and I think a lot of film fans will share that same opinion. Obviously stay well away from this one if you’re genuinely terrified of sharks or being stranded at sea, but otherwise, give it a go and see if you agree with Nancy’s plan of action. Either way, you’ll be entertained, and you’ll even get to see some breathtaking Australian beach scenery at the same time. It’s a win-win situation!