The Shallows

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada & Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo
Synopsis: When Nancy is surfing on a secluded beach, she finds herself on the feeding ground of a great white shark.
Rating: 15 Duration: 85 minutes Release date: 5 December (UK)

As I get older I often tell myself that less is more, and that is certainly true in shark based survival-horror The Shallows. What could have been an over-stylised B-movie thriller with little to recommend, is instead a taut thriller with a convincing lead performance and more white knuckle moments than you can shake a proverbial stick at.


Blake Lively’s surfer-girl Nancy is a medical student who is taking a sabbatical from her profession after the untimely death of her mother and decides to visit the same beach her mother went to while pregnant with Nancy. The beach is, of course, a secret beach and the local who takes Nancy there won’t reveal its name to her. After meeting two other surfers, Nancy decides to go for one last wave; a move that will unwittingly get her in a lot of trouble. After seeing a whale’s carcass nearby she is attacked by a great white shark and must somehow survive, trapped 200 yards from the shore.

Having never set eyes on any of the Sharknado films, the only shark based films that I can recall having any joy with are Deep Blue Sea and Jaws. The latter is a bona fide classic, while the former is a thoroughly daft but fun film that places its tongue firmly in cheek. The Shallows goes for a mix of both. There is an air of pomposity here, but director Jaume Collet-Serra manages to keep a handle on proceedings and installs a real sense of danger making The Shallows about as far away from Sharknado as you could want it to be.

Having to do much of the work on her own, Blake Lively puts in a confident performance as a woman stranded alone on a rock while tending to her wounds with only a surfers vest and her jewellery to use as makeshift medical tools. Seeing Nancy having to perform guerilla surgery on herself gives the film a bare-bones feel. She doesn’t have anyone else to call on, and as the film progresses it becomes apparent that no one is coming to help her. For the majority of the film Nancy spends most of the time stranded on a rock while the shark stalks her, the tension comes when she has to move from the one safe place has hoping to beat the shark to her destination.

There are times towards the end of the film when it starts to feel like The Shallows has overstepped the mark and begun to sink into ever more deliberately silly waters, but it somehow manages to keep a genuine sense of tension; particularity through earlier scenes where we see just how deadly this great white can be. At 85 minutes long it doesn’t out stay its welcome and one can applaud a film that instills some genuine fear back into the shark sub-genre, if there even is such a thing.


  • Deleted scenes
  • Four Featurettes

Film: 4/5
Extras: 3/5


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