Since 1975 any film with a great white shark in it is inevitably compared to ‘Jaws’. The Steven Spielberg directed horror yarn made audiences afraid of the water with its chilling depiction of primal terror. Similar movies have had to live up to the kind of suspense ‘Jaws’ generated with many failing. In spite of the occasionally outlandish moment, ‘The Shallows’ is a rare example of one that works. An effective chiller filled with many nail-biting moments that carves its own niche amongst the plethora of shark-infused tales.
Nancy (Blake Lively) is a keen surfer always on the lookout for nautical adventures. When surfing near a secluded beach she receives more than she bargained for. Trapped only 200 metres from shore, she becomes hunted by a great white shark. Using her skills and ingenuity, Nancy attempts to free herself from the deadly predicament. Faced with rising tide and lurking danger of the watery beast, Nancy’s future looks bleak with each passing second.
‘The Shallows’ is a shocker making much of its limited budget. It looks a million dollars due to the excellent photography with each crest of the wave over-lapping Nancy like pleasurable rainbows. This aids in creating the scene of both beauty and horror she witnesses. How she tries to out-smart her insidious foe is part of the macabre ‘fun’ refusing to let go until the final reel. Basically playing the only character you mostly see in the film, Lively excels in showing the terror and courage her character endures.
The rendering of the CGI shark is well handled, looking incredibly vicious in its ferocity. Making it less effective are the increasingly silly scenarios placed with Nancy. ‘The Shallows’ almost veers into ‘Jaws: The Revenge’ territory, with a seemingly super-human creature able to correctly predict Nancy’s actions. How it is able to leap obstacles is far-fetched, taking away from the early realism for which the film apparently strived.
Despite an uneven tone, ‘The Shallows’ is a fair horror flick teasing out what it can from the surrounds. It may not linger in the memory like ‘Jaws’ but is a reasonably entertaining slice of hokum sure to make viewers think twice about taking a dip into the ocean.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 6
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.