Summer Review: The Shallows (2016)

Welcome back to our next Summer holidays film, in this case, we have abandoned piranha and returned to the beach for more sharky goodness. This one is from the to watch pile…
The Shallows (2016)

The Cover of the Australian Bluray release of The Shallows

Film: I was pretty pumped when I first saw the trailer for this film at the cinema. There were three things that really piqued my interest. The first, was that it was a shark film mixed with a serial killer film: abandoned location and a girl trapped whilst a killer stalks her. All the comparisons made about Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers reversed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read comparisons made between the cinematic serial killer and the ‘dead eyes’ of a shark! Here we have that idea reversed and we see a shark acting with the same dead eyes and intentions!

The second is, believe it or not, even though I am a nerd through and through, I love watching surfing and I love the beach. I actually worked at an average job for far too long just because it was beside the sea, and I could go down to the beach whenever I wanted. The three months of summer made it all worthwhile. So I have seen almost every surf movie I can get my hands on, from the old Frankie and Annette things, to Blue Crush and then to docos like Riding Giants! Even though I am more an inside guy, I love looking at the seas and the sun.

Which brings me to the final, and possibly not quite as honourable reason: bikinis, and in this case Blake Lively in a bikini.

The Shallows: Blake Lively is not so tough on the eyes.

Let’s move on, shall we…

The Shallows tells of Nancy (Blake Lively) who, after the death of her mum, decides to take a break from medical school and travel for a while. She visits a beach in Mexico that her mum went to in 1991 when she was pregnant with her… just to get some kind of connection to her.

It’s an abandoned, secret, ‘locals only’ sort of a beach, with very few knowing of its existence.

She is dumped by her friend, who stays back at the motel, and finds herself on this beach that few know about, all by herself except for two locals having a surf.

She spends the day surfing and after the two locals leave, attempts to catch one last wave, when she is attacked by a shark.

The Shallows: blood fills the water!

The shark knocks her off her board and takes a decent bite into her leg, and leaves her stuck on a small rock that juts from the ocean… but how will she escape? Who knows she’s there?

… and what will happen to her when the tide comes in and covers the rock she’s on…

The first thing that strikes me about this film is how wonderfully it is shot. The seascapes are beautiful (it’s Lord Howe Island, what do you expect), but the director, Juame Collet-Serra, who directed The Orphan and Non-Stop, has utilised some amazing overlays to convey Facetime calls and the time. The story is told quite well through these overlays.

There are unfortunately some dodgy CGI effects. Not horrifyingly bad, but they stick out. When you see the film and see the dolphins and the jellyfish, you’ll know what I mean, that’s not to diminish how good the shark looks though, as it is pretty spectacular.

Considering the film is more or less Lively by herself for the entire film and is essentially a monologue of her survival, she does a great job, and is convincing in the role. 

What we have here is a decent thriller, with some great survival red herrings, a good lead and some cool set pieces, but it doesn’t set the world on fire. It strikes all the right chords, but still just isn’t quite the thriller it could be. There’s some X-factor that it seems to be missing, but that could just be that it’s not Jaws.

Score: ***

The Shallows bluray menu

Format: The release reviewed in the Australian multi-region bluray, which runs for about 86 minutes (I do like a short film now and again). It is presented in a super clear and vibrant 2.39:1 with a cracking DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with a trailer for the 2016 Ghostbusters film, before getting to the menu screen.

There are three deleted scenes, which as usual the film is better off without.

Shooting in the Shallows discusses the making of the film, and the difficulties of shooting a film in an aquatic environment, both at a beach, and in a tank.

When Sharks Attack looks at the scientific aspects of shark attacks, with an interview with a shark attack victim.

How to Build a Shark looks at the creation of the CGI shark, from drawing to maquette to actual effect.

Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island looks at the beauty of Lord Howe Island, and how it is an important part of the film.

There is also a preview for Ghostbusters.

Score: ****

WISIA: It will probably get watched again just because I like the scenery of the beach.

The Shallows: SHARK!!! (and some product placement of a GoPro)

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