The Shallows

The Shallows

Columbia Pictures, Weimaraner Republic Pictures, Ombra Films, USA, 2016
AKA: Lost Vacation, In the Deep
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Anthony Jaswinski
Cast: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo, Joseph Salas, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Pablo Calva, Diego Espejel, Janelle Bailey, Ava Dean, Chelsea Moody, Sully Seagull

Nancy is in Mexico looking for a beach. It’s a secret beach so nobody will tell You where it is and if You find it anyway, nobody will tell You it’s name. It’s a bit like Fight Club. Nancy isn’t a fighter, but a surfer, and so was her mom. It was her mom who told her of this beach in the first place. She spent time her when she was young, but she fell seriously ill and the doctors couldn’t save her. That’s why Nancy dropped out of med school and went surfing on her moms old secret beach.

She hitches a ride to the beach with Carlos in his pick-up. She tells him she’s alone cause her friend met some guy the night before and was too hung over to come with her. She basicly tells him she’s on her way to somewhere nobody in the world knows about all by her self. That should be a big no-no, but Carlos is the decent Mexican. (I’m convinced most Mexicans are decent, but in Hollywood movies statistics are to their disadvantage). Carlos is a good guy though, which is obvious when he decline payment for the ride. He says he was going the same way anyway since he lives not far away. Nancy calls her younger sister and tells her she’s on moms beach. She talks to her father who tries to convince her to come home to Texas and finish school. Then she goes surfing.

But before all this (really?), before the credits a young boy is playing on the beach when he finds a helmet with a GoPro mounted on it washed ashore. He plays the film and see two surfers getting attacked by a shark. The boy runs from the beach and passes a washed up broken surf board. It’s a clue to the chronology but we don’t know that yet since we still haven’t seen Nancy’s board. Therefore there is no way for us to know that the boy is decent Carlos’ son and he runs to get his dad and by doing so the beginning of the story becomes the end, or maybe the other way around. Sorry for spoiling the film, but if You have something better to do than watch a girl and a seagull sharing a rock, You can stop watching now.

The rest of us watch Nancy surf. Out there she encounters two other surfers. One of them has a helmet with a GoPro mounted on it. What is it with Mexican surfers and GoPro’s? (nudge, nudge.) They appear to be friendly and invite Nancy to join them, but she want’s to do her own thing. Anyway, they give her some advice and warnings of the undercurrents, corals that burn, and some rocks that isn’t visible at high tide but becomes little islets at low tide.

It’s getting late and the two others are leaving. Nancy says she’s gonna stay and catch another wave. She watches a bit suspicious as they pack their stuff in the car but they too, are decent Mexicans and they leave her backpack and her valuables where they are. Nancy discovers a dead whale and paddles over to take a closer look. This is a bad idea since the whale already has been claimed by a great white. Nancy tries to get away but is attacked by the shark and badly bit in a leg, but she gets lose and climbs on top of the whale carcass. The shark tries to get to her but eventually she makes it to one of the islets together with a seagull with a wounded wing. She has to patch up her leg somehow and figure out a way to get off the islet before high tide returns. The beach is only 200 yards away but the shark is going back and forth between her and the dead whale.

After spending the night with the seagull she wakes up and see a man on the beach. She calls for help, but unfortunately he is the bad Mexican she’s more or less has been expecting all the time. Instead of helping her or calling for help he steals her things at the beach. Then he sees her surfboard a couple of feet from the beach and get greedy. He thinks it’s a good idea to go get it. It wasn’t. Later in the morning the two surfers from yesterday turn up. When they see the wounded Nancy on the islet they jump in to come get her. She tries to warn them but one of them replies “There are no sharks here”. Well, he was wrong.

The plot is very simple, really. Nancy is on a sinking islet (or rather the water is rising), she’s wounded pretty bad, and the shark won’t let her leave. He can’t get to her now but when the water rises… When the film premiered there was a lot of hype and then most viewers seemed to get rather disappointed. There isn’t much of a story and there are several plot holes and weird happenings, but I don’t think it’s bad. It doesn’t really make sense to me why the shark just doesn’t eat the whale. There’s plenty of food there and yet he or she has to kill and eat every single person that gets into the water. The shark patrolling and stalking Nancy doesn’t make sense either. Most predators give up. They don’t stalk a certain person for days when there is alternative food served. The filmmakers try to explain this width a big hook stuck in the sharks jaws. Somebody has hurt him and now he hates humans, sort of. I don’t really buy that, but what ever. A rather weird goof is the buoy Nancy tries to hold on to. when two of the three chains that hold it in place breaks it falls over. WTF? Buoys don’t work that way. The chains aren’t there to keep it upright, but to stop it from drifting away. It’s like a boat. It doesn’t fall over when you pull the anchor up. (Well there was this famous Swedish boat once back in 1628, but apart from that…)

So, did I hate it? No. I think it was quite entertaining. In fact, I have to say it was the best shark movie I’ve seen in a while. Several reviewers have complained about bad CGI, but I don’t think that’s fair. If You compare The Shallows width all the SyFy/Asylum shark films the CGI is extremely good. The Shallows has also been called a Jaws rip off, and [spoiler] the way Nancy finally kills the shark [/spoiler] has been both laughed at and criticized. I think, if The Shallows is a Spielberg rip off we have to go deeper than Jaws. Four years before Jaws, Spielberg directed a film for TV called Duel. It’s about a business man who is getting stalked by a psychotic truckdriver in the Californian desert. This truckdriver, for reasons unexplained is out to kill the businessman with his truck. In the end the businessman uses the same tactics as Nancy does in The Shallows. Same, same, but a great white instead of a truck.

My verdict: 6 out of 10.

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