Going Off The Deep End: "The Shallows" Review

By Gabrielle Santiago on July 9, 2016

Photo Credit: Vulture.com

Gossip Girl’s superstar, and mom-to-be, may be in some rough waters with her new thriller: “The Shallows.”

The 28-year-old starlet, Blake Lively, plays Nancy Adams, a medical student from Texas looking to do some soul-searching further south. With her travel buddy hung over, Adams heads to the coast of Mexico alone, at a beach dangerously uncharted. The scenery is undoubtedly breathtaking, giving our equally stunning surfer a moment of peace as she reminisces about her mother who passed away with cancer.

However, beauty can be deceiving. After about 20 minutes of basic dialogue with her ride and a phone call to her distanced father, Adams finally hits the waves. While I credit Lively for her intense grimaces of pain, the storyline itself fell flat. The first time she’s attacked, Adams surfaces with a bloody, yet unbelievably small, bite mark on her thigh. Given the size of the Great White, and the fight they portrayed, her battle wound would’ve realistically ended in losing a leg, rather than a v-shaped scar.

To visualize this further, we see a nearby whale, another victim of the shark, with chunks the size of Adams herself missing. With a seagull as her only friend, Adams spends 75 percent of her time on a rock, and the other 25 percent trying to decide if she can out-swim an overly persistent shark four times her size.

When her conversations and interaction with her seagull friend trump the overall suspense of a looming Great White shark, you know there’s a plot issue.   Movies like “Jaws” reeled us in with their eerie unpredictability. “The Shallows” lacks that, almost completely. We could forgive this lack of suspense if we saw any character development, which surprisingly enough, there was not. Quite literally anything could’ve filled her screen time other than what was done. A mental tribute to her mother, a monologue maybe? Instead, she chooses to tap into her medical school days to fix her seagull’s dislocated wing and try to sew her cuts together with her necklace. Yes, she did in fact attempt to sew her thigh together with her necklace.

In addition, she manages to slip off her rock more than once, causing further damage to her leg and arms. Her last idea, which concludes her series of self-inflicted pain, becomes her final sink or swim moment. Remembering how the shark reacted poorly to jellyfish, she decides to swim through a swarm of them to get to a nearby buoy, after sending her only feathered friend off on a piece of a surfboard as bait. The last 10 to 15 minutes of the film pack in all the action that the other hour and a half must’ve saved for the end. Adams finally gets off the rock, treats the buoy as a shark cage, dukes it out with some power kicks to the shark’s face, and tricks it into impaling itself on wreckage on the seafloor.

To be honest, the shark’s demise was epic and somewhat unpredictable, but where was that throughout the rest of the film? Personally, I felt that the writers were going for a good ole tugging at the heartstrings buildup, ultimately making us cheer for her survival efforts in the end. However, the film is labeled as a thriller and/or horror, so the teary drama side of it attributed to its belly flop to most viewers.

Blake, I applaud your performance, but the screenplay went a bit off the deep end.

A writer with six thousand different interests. My pet peeve is being bored, so I'm programmed to never be.

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