There’s an abundance of things that the vast majority of people considered scary in life that as they grew up, lost their general menace. The dark. Spiders. Eventually, you learn that the monster living under the bed is a rather shy fellow and the next time you take a bath you won’t be flushed down the drain to meet a tiny watery fate…..
One childhood fear that doesn’t go away, however, is sharks, be it at six years old, or sixty. Sharks will always be horrifying expressionless death machines and The Shallows goes out of its way to exploit this fear. A B-Movie that after two weekends has already made twenty million dollars, The Shallows is a minimalist ‘bottle’ movie much in the same vain as Buried Alive or 127 Hours, a special genre of movie that focuses on the protagonist being stuck in an arena with a clear and present danger and The Swallows is another example of a classic bottle movie.
Blake Lively plays Nancy, a college dropout who flees from her responsibilities and happily surfs on an isolated patch of water in Brazil when she’s bitten on the leg by a great white shark. Taken totally by surprise and thinking quick on her feet, she finds refuge on a floating corpse of a dead whale who ran afoul of the shark in question before moving to some rocks as the shark slowly starts to stalk her. She has 24 hours before she starts to bleed out from her wounds and to escape the shark.
As discussed above, shark attacks are terrifying, but the idea that a shark would just single-mindedly stalk someone is a little bit of a stretch. The Shallow’s is less of a movie and more of a vehicle and a showcase for Blake Lively and her talents. Generally in her past projects she pulls off the natural, confident type that dances almost on the edge of being a privileged brat. She also has a very girl next door vibe to her, which she uses well here, showcasing her natural vulnerability to great effect during the attacks as she gets her paler and paler the longer time goes on and she tries to fight against the shark. Her face lights up a little and the sickly look vanishes just a little.
While it fails to fully explore the potential of a bottle like 127 Hours did, it’s a thrilling ride and it does serve as a great vehicle to showcase Lively’s acting range.
The Shallows is on general release from tomorrow