Dangerous waters. So this is about a surfer girl (Blake Lively). She has finally found the difficult-to-access beach that her mom talked about so much, and now that she has found it, she is going to surf it. Trouble is that there is a shark in the shallows, and the animal is much more aggressive than your standard shark. I pose to you a very serious question: what was the last good shark movie? Obviously the iconic Jaws is classic, but other than that… there’s not a whole lot out there, and those brainless Sharknado movies that people for some reason decided to start watching ironically hardly count for anything. While I haven’t seen Open Water, and while this movie is not without its fair share of problems to be sure, it is still the best shark movie that we have gotten in a long time, so there is at least that.
It’s more worthwhile than anything made by The Asylum, although that is the biggest case of damning with faint praise that I have written in this blog to date.
While I can appreciate this surf horror flick, there is a base part of me that doesn’t understand the allure of surfing; I’m not someone that will ever be mistaken for outdoorsy (classic film critic, right?), and I’ve seen amateur to medium surfers in real life accomplish nothing but get beat up by the ocean when they grab their board. But I digress. This is a very simple movie, and there is not all that much there to it. It doesn’t take overly long for this girl to get in the water, and after that, it doesn’t take long for this shark to rear its toothy smile. For almost its entirety, it is just this girl trying to fight off both this shark and infection, and that’s about all there is to it. This movie has no second guesses about what it is, or what its audience is there for, and for that, The Shallows succeeds in what many fail at: it delivers exactly what it promises to give you.
That and a bit of eye candy.
The simplicity of this is why The Shallows never stood the chance of being great. There are only so many different things you can do when isolated by yourself in the water, and it plays out exactly how you would imagine it would if you knew nothing about it other than that it is man vs. animal. You don’t ever really get to know all that much about this character that Lively is playing, and while she is a medical student so you can buy she has survival smarts, she starts to do trajectory calculations that you don’t buy, but you have no other choice other than to shrug your shoulders and say “sure”. For a low budget horror movie, this looks pretty good, but it is mostly for genre lovers only.
The Shallows (2016) ***
– Critic for Hire