A lone surfer (Blake Lively) is attacked by a shark, washes up on a rock and fights for her life as the tide comes up.
Well this is probably the surprise hit of the (admittedly shit) summer. Who would have thought that a good ol’ woman vs. shark would be one of the most entertaining things to have come out for a while?
The formula is simple. Show the shark as little as possible for maximum impact. Focus on one character. Give her a minimum amount of props. It’s nothing revolutionary but it’s proven difficult to find people with the balls to dial it back this much over the years. Even here there’s a lot of unnecessary background, although it goes out the window when things really get going.
‘Less is more’ only gets you so far though. The Shallows is bolstered by some excellent direction, beautiful cinematography and creative sound design - critical when the plot is so sparse.
Blake Lively is, unsurprisingly, central to the success of this film. She balances gut wrenching fear with grit and determination to give a performance more like Robert Redford in All is Lost rather than your stereotypical damsel in distress.
Perhaps we could have done without some of the padding at the start and the end of the film, but aside from that The Shallows is an original take on an old idea. Well worth a watch.