“The Shallows” (2016) is a pretty good beach-themed horror thriller — it’s just overrated. I’d give it an 8 out of 10, and I’d easily recommend it to somebody looking for a decent, conventional scary movie. But I don’t think it lives up to the hype.
The movie works. The scares are there and, for the most part, they are stylishly and artistically rendered. I jumped a couple of times. My friends keep comparing it with “Jaws” (1975) or “Deep Blue Sea” (1999), but it really has more in common with the “Open Water” films of the early 2000’s. It’s a competently made, slow-burn horror movie with a man-vs.-nature plot setup that could happen in real life.
But I doubt that “The Shallows” truly belongs on anyone’s must-see list, and I don’t plan on watching it twice. The story is a little thin. The movie feels padded with lengthy establishing shots and surfing sequences, and a belabored emotional backstory that feels tacked on. (I think this easily could have been an hour-long film.) The final action sequence is a little cartoonish, too. (C’mon.)
I’m also perplexed by critics’ praise for lead actress Blake Lively’s performance. To me, it seemed really poor. (The exception is her reaction shots — she shined when she was reacting to offscreen threats.)
Anyway, do check it out.