Movie Reviews

Movie Review: 'The Shallows'

By Zaki JufriMovies - 11 August 2016 12:00 AM

Movie Review: 'The Shallows'

Our Rating

3/5 Stars

If there is one creature that can elicit irrational fear in humans, it has to be the shark. 

Think “shark” and the pulsing soundtrack to ‘Jaws’ starts to rattle your nerves.

Seeing Quint die a horrible death in the cult Spielberg movie or a shark attack clip on Youtube leaves an indelible mark in your mind than the fact that you have a 1 in 3 million chance of being bitten by one.

After always playing the girlfriend, Blake Lively steps up to star in ‘The Shallows’. Although it is billed as the ‘Jaws’ for the millennial generation, the movie is rather a lean survival film that is a watery sibling to Danny Boyle’s ‘127 Hours’ than Spielberg’s shark movie.

Like James Franco’s trapped adventurer Aron Ralston who wormed his way out of a jam, ‘The Shallows’ is essentially a one-woman show that puts Lively’s acting chops to the test.

Lively plays surfer-girl Nancy who treks to a secluded Mexican beach that her recently deceased mother went after discovering she was pregnant with her. 


Nancy’s here to be alone, but this decision will come back to bite her in more ways than one. Instead of quiet contemplation, she finds some killer waves and a killer great white, hell-bent on devouring her.

Lively does all the heavy lifting throughout the movie’s brisk 187 minutes. For the most part, Nancy’s stranded on a rock less than 200 metres from the beach, trying not to bleed out after being bitten the shark.

A seagull with an injured wing (affectionately named Steven; Steven Seagull. Get it?) gives her someone to talk to in a Wilson from ‘Cast Away’ kind of way.

She patiently waits for low tide, and we wonder if the shark has swam off. Nope, it’s still around. Although there’s a dead whale floating nearby, the pitiless fish has eyes for something tastier.

Lively is put through her paces, going through a series of insurmountable setbacks and tribulations that even Bear Grylls would balk at.

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There are times when the camera lingers on Lively’s bikini bottom or her half-zippered wetsuit a tad too often, but we’re not complaining.

Anthony Jaswinski’s script cleverly sets up Nancy’s resolve, and sense of humour, early on; making her sympathetic enough for us to root for. 

After helming tense thrillers like ‘Unknown’, ‘Non-Stop’ and ‘Run All Night’, director Jaume Collet-Serra serves up a harrowing survival tale in a taut package.


There are the usual scares the near misses, the shark point-of-view, found footage and a lot of blood but it’s the restraint that Collet-Serra employs which ultimately sells the primal fear.

Despite its oceanic location, ‘The Shallows’ feels claustrophobic at times, and that adds to the simmering tension before we plunge into the absurd finale.

MORE: Run All Night review

‘The Shallows’ is not exactly the perfect dip in the ocean but it makes for decent popcorn fare at the tail end of the Summer season. 

If watching a shark relentlessly pursue a woman in this movie isn’t scary enough for you, watching her sew her injured leg with a necklace and pair of earrings is likely to stick with you for a little while.

‘The Shallows’ opens 11 August 2016


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The Shallows
  • The Shallows

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