You can blame Steven Spielberg’s lasting legacy with Jaws (1975) on films like this. Take giant scary shark. Insert attractive human female(s). Bedlam ensues. Ooh, scary etc. Popcorn fodder. Moolah. Repeat process.
The Shallows (2016) is another example, with Blake Lively as the star. But the thing here is, it’s an attempt to make a serious shark movie.
But then so does 47 Meters Down. Whereas Deep Blue Sea is self-aware in its total stupidity, these efforts have a genuine desire to try to be good.
The Shallows sort of manages it, but doesn’t.
The protagonist is Nancy Adams (Lively). There are a handful of other peripheral characters, including a seagull, but the other main star is the big bad shark dude lurking in the waters.
Right, so Nancy (lol) is on holiday in California and heading to an isolated beach. Her friend is supposed to be there, but is hungover.
Nancy has recently lost her mother so is hoping to get away from it all by doing a bit of surfing. Stripping off in gratuitous fashion, she takes to the waves to surf it up a notch.
She meets some other surfer dudes and they, like, totally catch some surf, dude. Far out.
The dudes clear off and Nancy is left alone in the water. A dead whale carcass floats on into the cove where she is and, like a dumbass, she swims closer to investigate.
She quickly realises there’s a massive bastard of a shark there feasting on the corpse. The shark, deciding the whole whale isn’t interesting enough for it, heads off after Nancy.
Sustaining an injury during her escape, she’s able to bung herself onto a rocky outcrop with a seagull for company (plus the shark swimming around, if that counts as company).
She names the bird Steven Seagull (lol).
So the premise of the film is there. She’s really super close to shore, but the quite psychotically angry shark is there as well.
It’s at that point the film becomes a, sort, of tense thriller. Nancy must use her brains to try to get back to the shore.
Us viewers are treated to a few close calls here and there as she attempts to outwit the shark in its home territory. She also gets to watch on as the surfer dudes return and psycho shark murders them to death.
So… how will she get out of it alive? Answers on a postcard. Or just watch this spoiler happy clip.
The film starts out trying to be as realistic as possible, but by the end really stumbles drunkenly over the finish line.
Sharks just don’t behave like that, FFS! We mean, why is the shark even so goddamn angry about the whole situation? There’s plenty of other things for it to eat.
Maybe it’s just trying to ask Nancy out on a date, who knows?
As daft popcorn fodder it’s a decent effort, but its gradual lapse into total stupidity removes any tension or horror left in proceedings.
However, we did quite enjoy it. Director Jaume Collet-Serra does a decent job at providing some scares and the shark largely looks realistic and menacing.
Credit to Blake Lively as well for putting in a solid performance. Nancy Adams is smart and capable, with Lively showing a good range of fear, terror, and whatnot.
Overall, it’s one of those films you watch if it’s heaving it down with rain outside and it’s a lazy Sunday. Good fun, stupid as heck, but something you’ll soon forget about.
The budget was around $25 million and it went on to make some $119.1 million back, so that’s a good turnaround.
Some filming took place in sunny Australia, New South Wales, during late 2015. Lively took on the project to match her husband Ryan Reynold’s physically demanding performance in the 2010 romp Buried.
Studio sections were shot at Village Roadshow Studios in Gold Coast, Aussie land.
For the shark, you can get a look at how the effects team went about making the son of a gun look scary.
More impressive is what they did for the Steven Seagull character. The bird was intended to be a mixture of CGI and puppetry.
The film’s producers hated that idea and they got Lively to go out and feed some seagulls.
After she survived that interaction, they realised they could use a live bird for the reflective scenes where she talks to the bird like a lunatic.
For obvious reasons, the great white shark was not a real great white shark at any point. Apparently that would be dangerous and immoral. Bloody snowflakes.