The Shallows (2016)

Review by CJ

The Shallows

Jaume Collet-Serra

Blake Lively, Sully Seagull

Other notable appearances:
A really big great white shark

Running time:
86 minutes

Watch this if you liked:
Jaws, The Reef, Bait


Nancy (Lively) travels to a secret Mexican beach to surf and mourn her mother who had travelled to the same beach while pregnant with her. While there, Nancy unwittingly swims into the territory of a great white shark and is marooned 200 yards from the shore. Nancy must fight for her life against the elements, her injuries and one of the world’s oldest predators.

I had reservations going into The Shallows primarily because I haven’t seen much of Blake Lively but what I have seen has been unimpressive and because the trailer made it look tedious. I wasn’t looking forward to sitting through another Black Water. My concerns were quickly abated on both counts.

Blake Lively’s performance was outstanding. She portrayed so many varied emotions and her performance always felt genuine.

Shout out to Sully Seagull who portrayed Nancy’s companion, Steven Seagull. I can honestly say that I have never been so emotionally attached to a seagull. Not just because he was magnificently named either. Though it did help.

The Shallows made excellent use of technology to create a sense of isolation in later stages of the film. Text messages, FaceTime calls and digital photos seen by characters on smartphones were superimposed over the scenes to highlight them to the audience. Once Nancy is in the water, all digital communication is cut off and the absence is felt more than it would have been if the interactions weren’t larger than life early on.

While it has a basic storyline — girl meets shark, shark tries to eat girl, girl is stranded on a rock being circled by shark — The Shallows is well executed. There are thrills, suspense and real concern for the characters involved (especially Steven). While Nancy’s introduction is short, it is enough to make you concerned for her well-being and not want her to be eaten by a huge shark.

The Shallows truly is a great natural horror film. It doesn’t need to fall back on the cheese and laughs that make me love b-grade natural horror so much. The Shallows is a genuinely thrilling film about survival in the face of insurmountable odds and terror. Highly recommended for fans of Jaws, natural horror or just a good thriller.

4 Stars

“It’s okay … No sharks come here.”


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