October 21, 2016

The Shallows

Jaume Collet-Serra, 2016
The shark attack genre is a genre completely saturated with ridiculous premises and generous usage of CGI. Oddly enough at the top of the genre is Jaws, but it's the gold standard. There's a big drop off from there. Nothing has really come close to topping Spielberg's masterpiece that caused an entire generation of kids to be afraid of the ocean. While there is one great Jaws film and three forgettable sequels, there are 4 probably forgettable (wouldn't know, haven't seen them nor do I plan on seeing) Sharknado movies. And then we have Shark Night, Ghost Shark, Shark in Venice, and what feels like a thousand other B-Movies. What separates Jaws from the others is the craftiness of suspense-building, playing with multiple senses and not just throwing visual carnage at your face. Often these movies just take a shark and exaggerate all of the natural behaviors, ultimately making it a bloodthirsty beast that just so happens to look like a shark and live in the water.

The shark in The Shallows is no exception. The shark appears after Nancy (Blake Lively) approaches a dead whale while surfing nearby. This in turn causes the shark to become agitated and eager to defend it's feeding site. Your bullshit detectors should go off here, because one would assume that the shark would just be happy enough with the giant floating meal that is already right there for the taking rather than chase after a much smaller meal that would be more difficult to obtain.

Nancy is able to escape the attack and finds a short term refuge on top of a rock. The film then becomes a limited storytelling piece of Nancy trying to figure out how to get to shore with very little resources and one heck of a shark bite on her leg. She conveniently has a medical school past that helps her in dressing the wound. For what it is, it's not a completely horrible film that wastes 90 minutes of your life. Lively is totally serviceable with her Nancy character and does the best that can probably be done with the character. The cinematography is rather good, along with the editing. The Shallows is not breaking any new ground, but to cut it some slack, it's not really supposed to. Like a slice of decent pizza, it goes down easy enough.

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