by Marissa Hock
The Shallows confirmed several things for me. One, I will never be a surfer because the thought of confronting huge waves terrifies me. Two, sharks are even more terrifying. Three, I love pizza too much to ever look like Blake Lively in a bikini. And last but not least, seagulls are pretty awesome, as she makes a seagull friend and names him Steven. Does anyone know a pet store that sells seagulls?
The Shallows features Nancy (played by Blake Lively), an American surfer who travels to Mexico to connect with the memory of her recently deceased mother. Nancy’s mom once traveled to the same unnamed, secret beach when she was pregnant with her. At first, everything seems to be going fine and Nancy catches some really good waves. Curiosity takes over when she sees a dead whale in the distance. Unfortunately, the whale and surrounding area are the feeding ground of a crazy shark. After that, Nancy is trapped and the shark tries very hard to make her his next meal. She sustains a horrible bite on her leg, but, because she has gone to medical school, Nancy knows how to care for it. The remainder of the film features Nancy trapped on a small coral island that barely rises above the sea. She tries over and over again to get help. I won’t say if she’s successful or not because, you know, spoilers.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by The Shallows. It will most likely never win any Oscars, although Blake did give a good performance, yet it had everything an thriller/shark movie should like amazing beach scenes, beautiful beach bodies, and a hint of terror below the surface. The foreshadowing in the beginning and the real time catch up worked well. The shark scenes were intense but not too over the top. One of the best filmed scenes involves the horrific death of the drunk beach-goer. He is essentially torn in half. Instead of witnessing a needless gory act, the audience sees the horror on Nancy’s face while he is being attacked and then the end result. Watching her expression makes it even more horrifying because it allows each viewer’s own imagination to take hold. I also liked the main character, Nancy. Sometimes in horror/thriller movies, I want to pause the film, get up from my seat, slap the main character across at the face and yell, what were you thinking!? I was not inclined to do that here. Nancy thought ahead and was pretty well prepared but one by one, each plan seemed to fall through. Finally, I liked that any inconsistencies or obviousness were answered in the film. For example, I wondered why the shark couldn’t get to Nancy while she was on the small coral island. It was barely out of the water. The answer given is that sharp coral exists under the water line making the water too shallow. Plus, the coral stings or irritates the skin when touched and the shark is not a fan.
At one point, I questioned whether Steven Seagull, who shares the coral island with Nancy, was real or just a figment of her imagination, kind of like her Wilson. He’s covered in her blood, and mostly just sits around, being seagull like. It turns out that his wing is dislocated, and eventually fixed by Nancy. Luckily, he does have a happy ending. So even if Steven is real, which he most likely is, he is symbolic in the sense that he too is broken and cannot fly away no matter how determined or skilled. Plus, he was at times the comic relief for a very tense film.
I would recommend The Shallows and would actually watch it again. It was a good thriller where I could turn off my brain and still be entertained. I’m also not a fan of needless gore and this movie had just the right amount for a horror film. Now let’s see if I’m brave enough to swim in the ocean this summer.
Hamlet T. Wondercat says