'The Shallows' Review: It Was Like 'Jaws', On Steroids
Based off of the commercials, 'The Shallows' seems to have a basic story-line. A beautiful surfer gets injured by a shark at a secluded beach and somehow has to make it back to land before the high tide sweeps her off the rock she’s clinging to. Although, the trailer previews were right, director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, House of Wax, and Non-Stop) actually intensifies everything you thought you would see with great detail. The intensity of the film was so powerful that during the screening, grown men were seen covering their faces. As for me, I was in dire need of an inhaler. 'The Shallows' was very intense, suspenseful and slightly scary (in a good way). It is safe to say, the unexpected surprises will leave you on the edge of your seat or clinging on to the person next to you.
At the start of the film you see a young boy playing along the shoreline. When suddenly, he comes across a battered helmet with an attached GoPro camera. The boy turns on the camera, which depicts a foreshadow of events that causes him to run away with the helmet at hand.
After that plot-point, you are introduced to Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) who goes on a mini-getaway to an excluded beach in Mexico that her late mother visited before Nancy was born. At this point, Collet-Serra gives a lot of detail from Nancy's phone as she casually talks with a local man named, Carlos (Óscar Jaenada) who is driving her. During this five minute ride to the beach, we learned that she is alone on her trip, because her friend is hungover and would rather be with a guy she met the night before. Nancy is clueless as to what the name of the beach is and the driver; Carlos doesn't name it for her. Once dropped off, we learn that she is at an unnamed paradise, alone.
From there, she has a quick FaceTime call with her dad and little sister and from that call, we discover that she is a medical student who would rather drop out of school and surf her life away, but instead she finds herself surfing for her life.
She comes across two male surfers (Angelo Lozano Corzo and Jose “Yuco” Trujillo Salas), and yes, one happened to be wearing that GoPro helmet mentioned before. Although she eventually decides to surf with them, she keeps a distance because she is not there to make friends. During their surf, upbeat music plays, but below the waves the sound of joy fades as we see a dark, shark shaped figure. Once the fun ends, the two men leave and Nancy stays out in the water for one last surf. During her surf, she comes across what appears to be a huge rock in the distance. As she gets closer, she realizes it is a dead whale and unknowingly, she has entered a great white shark's feeding ground.
As Nancy prepares to surf back to shore, the shark knocks her off of her board, and is now in the fight for her life. As she struggles back to the surface, her blood begins to cloud our view which gives you the feel of panic and suffocation. Being that the shore is impossible to get to without becoming the shark's lunch, she is left with only three options for safety, which are pretty spaced apart. With moments to spare, she has to pick between the whale's corpse, a floating buoy or an actual rock.
With everything being so close, yet so far, you then feel the stress of fight or flight that comes over Lively's character. Once the injured Nancy is stranded, we stay with her and a wounded seagull who also barely escaped the fatal encounter with the shark. The seagull named, Sully turned out to be an important character in the film. Just like in the movie, 'Castaway', Sully was Lively's Wilson, but with feathers. In a sense, the seagull actually added a layer of personality to her horrific, stranded moment. Sully gave me the feel of being Nancy’s late mother, who was sent down to watch over her during this test of faith. With Nancy's backstory, we know that her mom’s recent passing seems to have altered her views on life itself. Sully gave her hope and more of a will power to survive.
Throughout the movie, you are rooting for her as you too are taken on the journey of tension and terror.
'The Shallows' is a perfect summer drama/thriller. It opens in theaters everywhere June 24. After seeing the movie, it may alter your views on the beach and scare you out of the ocean. For more on 'The Shallows', check @ShallowsMovie on Instagram and Facebook.