Fight or flight is one of our most basic animal instincts. But how does one flee a huge predator when injured and stuck a quarter mile away from shore? That is the predicament our heroine finds herself in THE SHALLOWS, the latest film by Jaume Collet-Serra, now out on Blu-Ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD.
A young woman, Nancy, tracks down a secret beach that her mother visited when she was pregnant with her. Having been a surfer for several years, she decides to try out the waves on the beautiful beach only to realize that the cove is being stalked by a vicious great white shark.
The cinematography for this film is top notch. It felt like I was watching a premium surf travel documentary throughout the majority of it.
There is a seagull that is one of the best exhibits of animal acting this side of 2015’s THE WITCH. The bird had its own character, and was a great counterpart for Lively when she was alone on a rock in the middle of the cove.
Blake Lively is believable as Nancy. She exhibits a strong exterior character, yet waivers in her resolve part way through. It takes a reminder of why she came there to get her to fight again. But it isn’t to the point of melodrama.
While I didn’t mind it horribly, there is use of pop up images throughout the film as a method of showing Nancy’s text messages or looking back at images on her phones. It is an interesting stylized point, and one that isn’t over done, but some people could find it distracting and take them out of the story.
Why should you see THE SHALLOWS?
This film is intense. The shark attack sequences are extremely effective, as they come from out of nowhere. While this can be viewed as an attempt at jump scares, they are still extremely shocking attacks, sometimes brutally so.
The pace is taut and brisk. There isn’t a lot of down time as most exposition is handled via text messages on screen or as something is happening, like Nancy field dressing a wound. And it doesn’t overstay its welcome. At 86 minutes, it is over before you know it, but you aren’t left wanting at the end of it.
The blending of practical and visual effects is expertly handled in this film. I could tell that there was some computer generated graphics used, but it wasn’t glaringly obvious. And the disc has a pretty fascinating featurette about creating the shark, as well as how they utilized location shoots as well as a sound stage with a wave pool. While that may feel like demystifying the process, I found it highly educational and reminded me about reading about the making of JAWS when I was a kid.
Nancy: Blake Lively (THE AGE OF ADALINE, Gossip Girl)
Carlos: Óscar Jaenada (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, THE LOSERS)
Seagull: Sully “Steven” Seagull (his acting debut!)
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra (ORPHAN, NONSTOP)
Writer: Anthony Jaswinski (SATANIC, KRISTY)