The Shallows review: less teeth and more tension required


Blake Lively.
Blake Lively.

JUST when you thought it was safe to take a dip at a remote beach or pop your backside in a cinema seat, here comes another shark movie.

After the recent death of her mother, a disillusioned Nancy (Blake Lively) drops out of medical school and tracks down a secluded beach in Mexico to honour her mum, who once graced its shore while pregnant with her.

Nancy doesn’t know the name of the beach, hitches a ride with a stranger and her travel buddy is incapacitated with a nasty hangover – all signs point to her venturing alone to a secluded place, which is not a great idea.

Difficulties in getting an Uber back to her hotel turn out to be the least of her worries.

After hanging 10 with a couple of fellow surfers who eventually move on, Nancy is attacked by a hungry shark and is left stranded on some rocks off-shore during low tide.

And the shark does not look like he is keen to move on any time soon.

The Shallows sets up an intriguing scenario – think Gravity in the ocean – in which a resourceful heroine must battle a relentless predator with all odds stacked against her.

But the shark’s actions (flying leap attack) and Nancy befriending a seagull indicate this tips more towards cheese-fest Deep Blue Sea than classic white-knuckler Jaws on the shark movie scale.

You may find yourself in fits of giggles instead of gasping in terror.

Untrusting of its audience’s ability to put two and two together, The Shallows script has Lively irritatingly verbalising her thought process and motivations at every point.

A little subtlety would have gone a long way; less teeth and more tension.

THE ESSENTIALS

The Shallows (MA)

Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Blake Lively

Three stars

Review by Julian Wright

In cinemas now