The Shallows review: ‘Blake Lively is pored over in dragged out thriller’

Nancy (Blake Lively) in Columbia Pictures' THE SHALLOWS.

Nancy (Blake Lively) in Columbia Pictures' THE SHALLOWS. - Credit: Archant

Slickly shot The Shallows has no feeling of jeopardy, lacking the rough and ready nature of quality horror

The Shallows is basically the opening skinny dip scene in Jaws made into a whole movie: a woman disrobes on a deserted beach and gets attacked by a shark.

The woman here is Blake Lively and we are encouraged to admire the length and slenderness of her limbs, even when one of them is going gangrenous from a shark bite.

The admiration of desirable objects and locations is a fundamental component of the film.

Normally American teenagers get chopped up and traumatised in crummy backwoods cabins but Blake gets tormented on a beautiful, remote Mexican beach, free of any riff raff, with all the best surfing equipment.


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At the start the film flirts with a bit of found footage horror, but the footage is filmed on one of those GoPro cameras.

There is nothing rough or ready here; everything is shot like an advert for Jeep or Bacardi where glamorous, rich youngsters cross the world living fabulously.

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The Shallows is trying to resurrect the micro-cast one-location mini horror trend that was popular about half a decade ago: Ryan Reynolds buried in a box, three people stuck on a ski lift, or two people left in the middle of the shark filled ocean.

Here Lively ends up on a rock that is above the water unless it is high tide. Such films are exercises in dragging stuff out.

The Shallows is less than the regulation 90 minutes and when you think about how much is in slow motion the running time may be barely an hour and a quarter.

In these films it is important to adhere to the reality of the single location, but the film is haphazard with the levels of the rising tide and continuity issues abound.

I think all these films tended to leave audiences feeling short-changed. Open Water, the one where a scuba diving couple were left behind in shark infested water, wasn’t much of a film but it stayed with you, because there was something abrupt and cruel and poignant to it.

The Shallows is slickly filmed and the shark looks very real but there’s no great jeopardy to it because you suspect the camera has pored too lovingly over Lively to let her die.

Rating: 2/5 stars

For reviews of Solaris, Becoming Zlatan and The Early Films of David Cronenberg visit halfmanhalfcritic.weebly.com

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