A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills.
The Shallows is the latest Great White Shark monster movie and pits Blake Lively against this particular terror inducing fish just offshore an unnamed and gorgeous secluded beach. From director Jaume Collet-Serra (Run All Night and House of Wax), the Shallows delivers a short but intense monster thriller experience.
With its short run time the film centres almost exclusively on travelling surfer Nancy who is on a personal quest to connect with her past. The film is quite effective in its use of suspense and tension as it takes its time gradually leading up to the film’s main event.
Once the nightmare begins, for a time it maintains its intense edge through some dynamic camera work and great use of ocean terrain. It also manages to manufacture some minor problems underpinning the main conflict to keep the film engaging and without over exposing the shark. It cleverly injects some scenes where Nancy seeks to out think the shark, thereby creating opportunities for her own salvation.
Over the course of the film however it loses this momentum and it struggles to maintain that early intensity for long periods of time, by the later parts of the film the use of the shark isn’t as creative and as its effectiveness declines, unfortunately so does the films tension.
There were a number of ways the film could have concluded, however its chosen ending tends to do more harm than good, it’s difficult to imagine a more grounded ending wasn’t conceived given the overall tone of the film, rather than the comically exaggerated outcome delivered here.
Blake Lively delivers a strong performance, there’s not a lot of character material for her to work with but the film demands a variety of emotional response and heightened drama. She’s able to play to the lighter moments and the terrifying sections of the film in a convincing manner, her performance at times works to anchor the film more soundly than what it deserves. There are some missed opportunities where she could have been better utilised in that her reactions to what her character witnesses would have been far more compelling that what is actually revealed to the audience.
The use of scenery is great, and shark looks extremely convincing, it’s clear that it was pieced together with great attention to detail and the onscreen result is impressive.
The Shallows is a good looking film, it’s an effective monster thriller which unfortunately falls a little too far in its exaggerated action scenes which detracts from the end result.
I’m giving it 7 out of 10 stars, The Shallows is now showing in cinemas around Australia.