Took myself and hubby off to see The Shallows yesterday. I’m a sucker for a shark attack movie, don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s because Jaws is one of my favourite movies and I’m always trying to relive the excitement of that film. Maybe it’s because it’s the one truly safe way of being scared out of my wits—sharks don’t come on land do they? (not unless there’s a Sharknado I guess…) So, unlike serial killer flicks, a scary movie about a shark won’t keep me up at night wondering if I locked the back door. The arguably irresponsible demonizing of sharks aside, I find a lot of fun jump scares to be had in this type of film.
And The Shallows doesn’t disappoint. Jump scares aplenty, with the nasty villain (let’s call him Bruce, for obvious reasons) sneaking around beneath the surface (thanks to the great, Jaws-inspired shark’s point of view camera work), then popping up when you knew to expect him to deliver a delicious jolt the nerves. A terrific piece of thriller entertainment using ye olde man vs beast trope, but with a twist.
This time it’s woman vs beast. And I loved it.
Okay, the first 20 minutes of The Shallows was basically a long advertisement for Rip Curl and Blake Lively’s ass. We do see the expected bikini shots (but at least the surfing aspect gave the film makers a genuine reason to have the gorgeous blonde in a bikini, which is more than I can say for some movies). There’s no denying there was a focus on her sex appeal in the beginning of the film, but the difference between this film and those featuring the woman-in-peril scenario that have been made in the past is that once the action begins, the movie doesn’t rely on gratuitous T & A shots to appeal to the males in the audience. Nancy is one tough broad who basically spends the rest of the film using her intelligence and the few resources she has (the wet suit, her watch, a go pro camera) to outwit the ultimate hunter, one of (wo)man’s only natural predators. It’s compulsive viewing, made all the more enjoyable because Nancy was allowed to be human, not merely a woman. This was a survival story that could have starred a man or a woman, because neither sex would have an advantage against Bruce. But it starred a woman, and that was so cool because once upon a time, not so long ago, that would never have happened.
(My husband pointed out that Gravity had a similar set up—one woman alone against the elements having to use her smarts to survive. So that’s two such films I can think of… anyone got anymore for me?)
I loved this flick, despite its flaws (of course there was no realistic way the film’s hero(ine) could have survived the mountain of manufactured monster movie madness that was thrown an Lively in this film so the resolution could make you chuckle, as it did me. But you can be pissed off at how unrealistic it was or you can have that chuckle and even a little cheer too, because silly or not, in the end Nancy didn’t wait for anyone else to save her, she saved her own ass).
The Shallows lives up to the trailer and was an enjoyable way to spend Saturday afternoon.