I’ve made it quite clear that the ocean (as beautiful as it is) can fuck right off and so can those giant, man-eating fish with chainsaw teeth—don’t get me wrong, they’re amazing creatures no doubt, but I’m totally cool with never seeing one in person… like ever. Just the thought of being stranded in the ocean—bleeding out—while a great white shark is circling, waiting to turn you into man sushi is legit terrifying to me and Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows had me squirming in my seat because of it. In it, a mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills.
I gotta say I love the premise of this movie, which is essentially 127 Hours meets Open Water—it’s such a simple concept that you had to wonder how Jaume Collet-Serra was going to approach it seeing as how there’s really only so much you can do with Blake Lively and a rock. And to my surprise, he goes completely off the rails with it; like there’s a lot of bullshit going on in this movie, but at least it’s some really fun bullshit. And the fact that the movie does it all with a straight-face is kind of awesome—Blake Lively actually becomes friends with a seagull and fights a shark for an hour and a half. That shit really happens and it’s not even the weirdest part, like at all. Obviously, I won’t spoil any of it here, but if that sounds even remotely good to you, then you’re probably going to get a kick out The Shallows.
But before it starts down that path, the film does a fantastic job of building a tense atmosphere despite the fact that we all know what’s coming. In doing so, it takes advantage of the audience, using those few quiet moments in the film to create a grueling sense of tension—every shot of her feet dangling in the water is so much more powerful knowing that there’s a giant shark somewhere nearby. And so the film makes great use of that, turning a harmless surf session into a nail-biting nightmare. It’s actually crazy that what starts out so slow and calculated quickly turns into an almost action movie style thriller that rarely ever slows down. It’s certainly a fun movie whether you buy into it or not, so there’s that.
Before I wrap this up, I have to mention Blake Lively, who really holds her own here. For a story that pretty much only gives her a bird, a rock, and a shark to work with, Lively is quite good—she turns in a strong performance that keeps the film engaging even when she’s not fighting a shark or bleeding to death. And although the movie is admittedly a little too goofy at times and some of the CGI is questionable, it has an over-the-top charm to it that, if anything, is plenty entertaining.
How to Build a Shark — This was probably the best special feature on the Blu-ray. It digs into the creation of the film’s monster, the great white, and how they wanted a design based on reality. We get a little taste of everything here, from the shark starting as concept art, becoming a 1/5 scale model, and eventually turning into the CGI beast we see on screen.
Shooting in The Shallows — Jaume Collet-Serra is so talented that he made The Shallows look effortless, a real feat when you see just how difficult it was to shoot the film. What’s great about this feature is that it peels back the layers of the movie, showing us just what went into the film to make it all work.
Finding the Perfect Beach — The beach in The Shallows is just as important as the rest of the film. It had to feel special, and most importantly, it had to be a place that no one had ever seen before. Here it talks about their long search to find the perfect beach, which ended up being a tiny island off the coast of Australia. Of course, this brought with it its own unique challenges because no one had ever shot a film there before.
When Sharks Attack — Although brief, this was a fascinating look at a real-life shark attack as well as some of the ways that can help you avoid it ever happening to you. Good stuff.
Deleted Scenes — There are only three deleted scenes here, none of which are all that exciting, but certainly worth a look if you’re a completist—I dug the deleted scene of Lively chatting it up with the seagull, though.
You can pick up The Shallows on Blu-ray this September 27th.
17 thoughts on “Blu-ray Review: The Shallows, thriller with a bite”
Perhaps not the, erm . . . . deepest of horror-thriller survivalist movies, but I agree – this was an entertaining little jaunt. I love how efficient it was. I think this had some serious psychological intensity missing that would make it more comparable to Boyle’s 127 Hours, but in terms of concept and limited human presence, yeah I can see it. I’m glad you liked it. I did too.
Good call. I agree, I think the film kind dumped the idea of it being about the psychological damage this would do to someone and went with the more in-your-face approach. It’s basically an action movie, which turned out to be pretty fun!
Yeah and I really liked how contained of a movie it was. Cinematography generally pretty as well, not talking about the gawking cameras all over Lively’s body of course. Or am I . . .
I am DYING to see this
It’s a fun one! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it!
I don’t think it’s coming out here til August. Uhhhhh
Aww, that sucks! Well hopefully the hype won’t kill it too much for you by the time you can watch it.
I loved this movie and will go on record as saying it is the best man vs shark movie since Jaws. Blake Lively definitely more than held her own and even though there were some silly moments they never once ruined it. This one’s going in my collection!
Glad to hear it, Jmount! It really is a fun movie and you’re totally right, Lively was fantastic here especially considering she was largely the only human on screen.
looks like we all went to see The Shallows this week, lol. Its great how each of us who review this hones in on different aspects, all true and all parts that make the movie a great one. Its simple but every little scene has so many aspects to it, without hitting you over the head with a message.
Haha, I was actually thinking the same thing because we all posted our reviews/thoughts right around the same time! And you’re totally right about everyone finding something different to focus on. That’s awesome.
Ryan, your opening lines are fucking GOLDEN xD LOVE it!
Great review, and I will definitely check this out sometime, but won’t rush off to cinema for it. A seagull? Other weird shit? You have piqued my interest!
lol, thanks! I’m actually pretty curious to see what you think of this one. So far it seems like most people are getting a kick out of it, though!
I LOVED the shit outta this! I’ll be reviewing it later, when it’s released in August (in Australia), but I’d definitely put it on my top ten films of the year – I had so much fun with this … Steven Seagull was genius!!
Best opening line to a review I’ve read in a while–I live next to the ocean, and that thing is creepy. I wasn’t sure how to feel about this one when I saw trailers, but given the reaction it’s been getting it sounds like I’d enjoy it. Will have to make the effort to check it out.
Haha, thanks! You should definitely give it a shot, especially because a lot of people are seeming to have fun with it. If anything, it’s a pretty fun hour and a half!