The Shallows (2016)
This movie, as previously stated, is rated R. Don't worry. You don't have to see it.
Let's give a little bit of background to why I actually watched this movie. This was lauded as one of those underground greats. It's October and I want to watch a horror movie that doesn't exactly, pardon the pun, swim in the same circles. I think it was io9 that really sold this as the greatest man v. nature horror movie of the past few years. That excited me. For some reason, I shut off the part of my brain that reminded me that io9 hates a lot of the stuff I like and likes a lot of the stuff I hate. All I can remember is that io9 drew my attention to Pacific Rim and now I have rose-colored glasses.
I honestly thought that this was going to be the indie-thinker shark movie. Conceptually, it is pretty cool. A woman can't leave a rock and swim to shore because a shark is terrorizing her. Cool. It is just...there is so much pragmatically wrong with this movie. I am going to break down the major flaw with this movie. It may seem nitpicky, but my brain can't wrap my head around it. Perhaps it is a lack of suspension of disbelief, but this is pretty egregious.
The film starts off like most of the genre, establishing setting (a remote beach) and a character's basic background (med student who is sad). Why is she going to die? Because no one knows where she is. Why can she MacGuyver herself out of any situation? Because she's a med student. LET'S SURF! I don't know what it is about trying to halfheartedly show some extreme sports in a movie, but it really just upsets both the pro-sports and the anti-sports audiences. The inciting incident, however, holds promise. Blake Lively's Nancy, the sad med student surfer, encounters a dead whale at sea. Gross, but she's fascinated by it because the audience is intrigued. It is only now that the shark decides to attack (see above photo). She swims for the dead whale and climbs aboard, which would have made an even better movie had she just had to survive aboard a dead whale the entire time. Think about it. Dead whale both rotting away and being picked apart by scavengers until she is too tired to swim for land? Whale being swept away to the ocean? There's so much potential here. DEAD WHALE BOAT! (I just thought of that. You're welcome, Hollywood.) But this is where the movie falls off the rails. The shark is acting like a serial killer here. We can all suspend disbelief when it comes to basic shark attacks. The statistic has been floating around (pun intended) about how sharks don't like attacking humans. This shark goes out of his way to kill Blake Lively.
The point is that it ignores a huge whale for a tiny meal. The whale was only included for the gross out moment of Lively's hand plunging through the beast. It's a shame, because the tone of the rest of the movie mirrors this. It is a movie full of opportunity to examine the human condition, yet settles for a third rate action horror movie. Lively has way too much knowledge. The battle becomes stupid at one point. There's an injured bird that she chooses not to eat for sustenance. It's silly and stupid and the worst part...it is all about wasted potential. I don't love Monday morning quarterbacks, but when I'm aware of what would fix a movie and am convinced of it, I get weirdly depressed. All of the elements needed to make a good movie are here and it weirdly goes the way of SyFy's shark related content. The effects may be better and it may have a better color palette, but there's not much going on here.
Leave a Reply.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.