Dark water is scary.
Like, really scary. It’s a common trend in horror films. And a trend that isn’t likely to fall off anytime soon. But if it does, it’ll be the next example of a horror revival, since the fear of the unknown isn’t something that’s likely to go away. The Shallows is the next in a long line of films that seeks to capitalize on that fear.
Nancy (Blake Lively) sets out on a surfing trip with a friend, hitting a beach in the middle of nowhere in Mexico to try to cope with some tragic life changes. Unfortunately, the day they’re meant to catch big waves is disrupted by her friend’s hangover, so rather than call it off, Nancy heads to the beach alone. I bet you see where things are going from here. A secluded beach. A country where she doesn’t speak the language. And an ocean full of things with giant, sharp teeth.
While the plot may be predictable, the way it gets from point to point is absolutely thrilling. I was on the edge of my seat for nearly the entire run time. Much credit should go to director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, Non-Stop) for creating such a taut film. Even though I feel like I could’ve guessed exactly what was going to happen next for the majority of the movie, the way it tip-toed along that line was breathtakingly intense.
Obviously, the fact that Lively is rather attractive helps the movie a lot. Considering a good chunk of the run time is staring at her in a bikini on a rock, that’s fairly important. I’m not going to say it would’ve been impossible, but I’m guessing the same exact plot starring John Goodman wouldn’t have been as… um… captivating.
But beyond her physical appearance, Lively turns in a really solid performance. Outside of The Town, it’s not as if Lively has starred in a bunch of critically acclaimed movies. That’s not necessarily any fault of her performances, we just haven’t had much of an opportunity to see her really flex her chops. Considering this movie is almost 100% reliant on her chops, there’s no way it would’ve been remotely enjoyable if she turned in a sour performance. Thankfully, she does not. While she almost certainly won’t be nominated for any Oscars, The Shallows is a fine resume builder that should hopefully help get her some more leading roles.
Overall, The Shallows is a solid inclusion into shark horror films. While not as scary or memorable as some of the bigger films in this category (such as Jaws) it’s still a worthwhile saltwater scarefest, and one of our favorite reviews.