May include spoilers
If you want a terrifying nautical monster for your movie, and you want one that actually exists, you’re bound to dive right towards the great white shark. They may not be as vicious as Jaws made some think, but with their dark, beady eyes, their razor-sharp teeth and their mysterious nature, they are as irresistible to horror-lovers as vampires and werewolves. Just like vampires and werewolves, sharks have their share of painfully dumb movies (see Deep Blue Sea and Shark Night) but they can be used to great effect to create tension and suspense, and The Shallows is a good example of the latter.
A young woman named Nancy (Blake Lively) decides to go surfing near a beach that she associates with her dead mother. Twenty yards from shore, she ends up stranded on a rock when she is attacked by a shark, and has to find a way to get back on land without the shark killing her. There are other characters in the film, but most of the film is akin to Locke and Buried in a way, focussing only on Nancy and her attempts to survive.
The Shallows actually does well in focussing on one actor. Nancy is a likeable character, given her story and an interaction she has with her family before going out for one last surf, and Lively’s acting really sells her situation. You really get a sense of her desperation and exasperation. Like Chuck Noland had Wilson the football, Nancy also has interactions with a seagull she names “Steven Seagull”. (Ha.) I would even say that Steven is the best actor in the film, really; when Nancy decides to eat a crab, he seems to give her a perplexed expression.
It’s not the best survival horror movie, but The Shallows still manages to be gripping and thrilling and is worth at least one watch.