The Shallows (2016)
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
It’s not Jaws, but that’s a good thing…
The natural tendency is to compare this film to Jaws. However, it’s not fair to compare the two films because they are completely different. They exist for two completely different reasons. They tell two different kinds of stories. Jaws is a big, multi-faceted story about a whole town and its welfare and its way of life. The Shallows is a small story about one young woman and a place she’s stuck at, in her life. It’s a very personal story. Oh yeah and there’s a shark.
After the passing of her mother, Nancy goes to a Caribbean island to find the secret beach where her mom surfed and where she found out she was pregnant with her first daughter. It’s a special place, symbolic, but also a beautiful paradise–a great place to not only surf, but to clear your head of clutter and feel free.
Nancy is befriended by two locals who give her the low down on surfing in the massive bay area. The cinematography is outstanding and the color is beautiful. You get a real sense of the beauty of the place and the serenity of its isolation. When the locals pack it in for the night, Nancy decides to catch one last wave. She’s attacked, bitten on her leg, but manages to escape her nemesis. She gets stranded on an island, nothing more than a large stone, that is only out of water during low tide. The large killer shark is patient and circles, waiting for high tide.
I thought it may be difficult for a film with basically only one character to keep my attention. However, the film was engrossing and full of excitement. Great pacing and imaginative storytelling, letting the viewer in on the backstory in a light-handed manner, make this film a winner. It lulls you into its peaceful serenity with its beautiful views and bright sparkling water, then it rips that comfort out from under you. It combines the right amounts of thrilling suspense, emotional content and gut twisting action. I may change my mind with future viewings, but upon my first watch I give it top rating.
An emotionally charged thriller shark movie worth a trip to the theater.
I give it 5 chomping razor-sharp teeth out of 5 on the killer carnivore vs virtuous vixen scale.