Shark thrillers are my favourite avenue of the horror genre. I’ve always been fascinated by sharks anyway so when they become the focus of a movie I just can’t resist. Of course Steven Spielberg’s classic ‘Jaws’ will always be the best and my favourite of the genre but I enjoy so many others too. I even stuck with the now monotonous ‘creature feature’ phase in its early days as certain titles were so bad that they were good. However with ‘The Shallows’ I was so glad to see an underwater thriller where the shark isn’t half octopus or fighting a giant python.
The plot to the film is pretty simple it’s Blake Lively versus a massive Great White Shark, what’s not to like eh? The film is set in Mexico and for many of the opening scenes the film looks stunning. The beach that the events of the film take place on is straight out of a holiday brochure and the initial surf sequence felt like an advertisement for the latest high end fragrance. So the film certainly looks the part but was there anything more to it? Probably the most critical element to any shark movie is the tension that is created and I’m happy to report that ‘The Shallows’ delivers this and then some. For the first two acts of the film you’ll constantly be on edge frantically trying to spot where the shark will appear from next and it will have your heart pumping a few beats faster than usual. The use of music is particularly playful in one of the sequences near the beginning of the film, cleverly contributing to the ridiculous levels of tension. The shark looks the real deal too, another massive element to any film in this genre. It was menacing and I think was shown the right amount in order to sustain the tension for as long as possible.
The third act substitutes this tension for action though, but this creates a nice balance as there is nothing worse that a shark film full of tension with no pay off. However, it is in the third act where the film takes on a bit too much water and begins to show signs of struggling. Some moments over complicate the film and try to do too much. Thankfully none of these moments last too long though which means that the finale to the film is still very entertaining a fitting end to the story. Other than the shark Blake Lively is carrying this film pretty much entirely on her shoulders and she does a great job. She’s easily likeable which is so important here and she makes the unnecessary drama and underdeveloped script watchable. Like the shark she too obviously looks the part and she’s easily convincing as her character which means the film always stays afloat.
We all know that ‘Jaws’ is the best shark film but I’m gonna have to say that ‘The Shallows’ is the best of the rest. Think ‘Open Water’ meets ‘Deep Blue Sea’. It’s got a great mix of real tension and then popcorn entertainment. Looking the part too across the board makes the film that bit more appealing as well. Of course it has its problems, mainly in the third act, but there isn’t anything that compromises the film as a whole. As the film’s tagline suggests ‘It’s not just another day at the beach’ and much to my delight ‘The Shallows’ isn’t just another dumb creature feature but it successfully attempts to give it’s audience a more authentic shark thriller.
Rating – 8/10
Question: Other than ‘Jaws’ what is your favourite shark movie?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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