Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
It really is a travesty that possibly one of the scariest beasts Mother Nature has ever cooked up has been utilised to such little effect on screen. In 1976 audiences were terrified by Jaws, and in 1999 Samuel L. Jackson was claimed by a great white in one of the most unintentionally funny deaths of all time, but other than that sharks seem to be more parodies on screen than legitimate threats. There are three awful Jaws sequels, and three awful Sharknado films—hardly the justice the creature deserves. I’d take Freddy, Jason, and Buffalo Bill any day over a six foot marine serial killer, and after watching the events unfold in The Shallows I’m sure Blake Lively would agree with me.
Thankfully this film is far more Jaws than Sharknado, and left me surprisingly entertained. The prologue may not be a selling point, with cringy dialogue and over-exposed footage drenched in instagram filters, but once Lively hits the waves the film locks into a tense, fiercely engaging, episode of Lively versus shark. The director makes good use of a bobbing, semi submerged camera and the isolated setting to reduce the narrative to its bare bones—much like what the shark is trying to do to the protagonist. The use of colour is also fantastic, particularly the explosive red of blood in the dark blue water, and the setting always feels authentic, even down to the natural lighting. Blake Lively does exceptionally well as a person in dire straits trying to preserve themselves, and she sells the pain and terror effortlessly. Her companion (i.e. the shark) in this piece is equally as solid; the shark’s special effects always add up to scares, and never comic relief. The two bring together a decent, if simple, thriller that may give you pause to wade into the water come summer.
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