Film Review: The Shallows

I’ve been afraid of the ocean and sharks for as long as I can remember. I can’t tell you where this fear originated for me, but thanks to The Shallows I can tell you the exact moment in which the little boy sitting in front of me became afraid of the great wide sea. I saw it in his eyes as he climbed into his mother’s lap. Welcome, child. Say it with me: the ocean is dark and full of terrors.

The plot of The Shallows can be summed up rather simply: Blake Lively vs a great white shark. A super terrifying great white shark that for some unknown reason has it out for the human race. Maybe one of the sharks from Deep Blue Sea managed to escape with its raised levels of intelligence and vendetta towards those who experimented on it, maybe a fellow “fish are friends, not food” subscriber from Finding Nemo has gotten a taste for human to balance out its limited diet… Who knows. What I do know is that if you go into the water, you are going to die.

Now I’m no expert on the subject, but it’s safe to say that shark behaviorists might have a thing or two to say about the great white in The Shallows. I’ve seen enough Shark Week programming on Discovery to know that the majority of this movie is highly exaggerated and most likely illogical, but I will say to these shark experts what I said to the space enthusiasts who had a bone to pick with Gravity: take your science and get off my lawn!

Once we get past some character building and a weak point of a surfing montage, The Shallows basically becomes the worst case scenario that all of us ocean fearers expect the moment we set foot off of the sand and into the water. Each minute is filled with the dread of what could be lurking under Lively’s feet, and once the great white finally breaks the surface the danger is unrelenting. With the short runtime of only an hour and a half, The Shallows doesn’t waste any time throwing anything and everything at Lively’s character as she bleeds out, stranded on a tiny rock in view of the shore. Because of this, there were some elements that had me saying “oh come on,” but for the most part I was pretty much willing to accept anything this nightmare fuel had to throw at me as it continued to compound the hopelessness and desperation of the character I wanted so desperately to live.

Swim away, Lively! For God’s sake, SWIM AWAY!

No matter the highly fictitious levels The Shallows sinks to at times, no matter the lies the amazing and terrifying looking great white is presenting about its brethren in its quest to kill Lively in front of her sidekick seagull, one thing cannot be denied, The Shallows is as fun as it is anxiety inducing. Just maybe wait to see it if you have any summer plans that involve the ocean.

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