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The Shallows (2016) | Movie Review

[Featured Image: Columbia Pictures]

The Shallows is a 2016 horror and thriller movie about a surfer called Nancy (Blake Lively) who is stranded 200 yards from shore, and must survive a great white shark attack and get back to safety. It’s directed by Jaume Collect-Serra, produced by Lyn Harris and Matti Leshem, and written by Anthony Jaswinski.

Before we get too into this, I’m going to say this: I enjoyed this movie, but mostly because I could suspend belief long enough to get through it. The movie is only an hour and a half, so it’s not too long to wait, but there’s definitely a lot wrong with it.

Movies with sharks are some of my favourites, so of course when I saw that this movie was going to be a thing I had to check it out! The main reason I love these movies is because I love sharks and I know a lot of what we see is going to be ridiculous and exaggerated (unless of course it’s based on true events, although even then…) but this movie takes it to another level.

Right from the start we’re introduced to some interesting editing choices. I don’t think they were used enough, by the time you get used to them they’ve stopped.

One such example of these editing choices was when Nancy looked at pictures on her phone or video chatting with people. Their faces would be projected into the air so that we, the audience, can see what she and the person she’s talking to (or pictures she’s looking at) look like. It was strange at first, and like I said, by the time I got used to it, they stopped using it.

Eventually the story builds to her being attacked by the shark. If you’ve seen any trailers you would have seen the bite mark it left. I knew from the trailer it was going to unrealistic and I wasn’t going to be impressed at all. The bite she ends up receiving was way too small and there wasn’t enough damage.

The shark bite could have been fixed very easily. Either they needed to have the shark not hold on for as long or shake her so violently to have the bite mark they did (even then it would still be a little unrealistic), or they needed to make it more gruesome. Have a chuck bitten clean off, or have a huge chunk that’s only hanging on by a thread. That way later when she makes a bandage for it using a sleeve, it would be worse because not only does she have to do it to stop the bleeding but also to keep her leg together. Of course, the latter would make it harder for her to do the things she does, so the first option is more viable. Either way, the damage would have been much worse than what we saw. Regardless, it’s not inaccurate enough to make me stop watching, hey, I got into these movies knowing they’re complete rubbish half the time.

After she was injured there were a mixture of things I liked and a mixture of things I didn’t. They do eventually explain why the shark attacked her in the first place. They also seem to have some good progression with her injuries, and how over time they get worse, and also the side effects of her being stranded outside with no food or water. However, with all of these good progressions and explanations, there were also some issues, mostly the inconsistencies with what she was capable of doing and how much strength she had.

The explanation that she was in the shark’s feeding ground was good, however, the fact that the shark stuck around as long as it did, was not. There was a point where she passed out on the rock and some time seemed to pass by, with a dead whale nearby, you would expect the shark to eat that and then move on, because if Nancy hasn’t moved for a while the shark is most likely going to grow bored and move on.

When it comes to her strength and capability there seemed to be moments where she was too exhausted, but then the next minute she’s doing all this crazy stuff that would require a lot of energy. The fact that she was able to swing around on the buoy the way she did was one example, of course there’s the idea of adrenaline, but just overall there was so much inconsistency.

There are a lot more things throughout the movie that could be complained about, but one of the biggest came at the end. From an entertaining and movie stand point the way the story ends is visually and dramatically well done, however, it’s one of the most unrealistic parts of the story.

When the chain is dragging her down to the seabed it seems very fast. Either her arm would have been dislocated or ripped clean off, but this could just be a fault in visuals and maybe the chain wasn’t moving as fast as it seemed. However, if it was moving that quick, it probably also wouldn’t have been so easy for her to dive out of the way. Also, later on the beach, when she starts coughing up the water, she’s clearly traumatised but then she seems to just get over it pretty quickly. Her coming back a year later didn’t bother me too much because I know a lot of surfers like to get back in the water asap after an attack/accident, however, I would have expected some more hesitation, especially seen as she’s taking her little sister into open water, but still, not the biggest thing.

The movie is told in real time and takes place in one setting, considering that they cover the time well. It was entertaining enough that I never wanted to turn it off. It’s visually pleasing to watch, and is surprisingly colourful. Blake Lively’s acting is also very well done, and I can safely say I cared, at least a little, about her character.

It’s not a terrible movie. There were plenty of things I enjoyed about it, and I am glad I watched it, however, if you can’t suspend your belief, this might not be the movie for you. It’s incredibly unrealistic, and there are plenty of other shark movies that have done much better overall.
Note: this was originally posted over on my creators.co profile but considering it’s closing at some point I’m moving a lot of my old article here.
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