And that’s a compliment. Typically mediocre filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra should be commended for elevating the genre when he didn’t have to. Outside of Jaws, great shark movies are hard to come by. The Shallows isn’t great, but it gets the job done with gorgeous ocean photography and a gorgeous performance from former CW star Blake Lively. When she commits to a role, she gets her hands dirty. With the exception of an almost willfully bunk visual stunt early on wherein Lively’s face is plastered on the body of a surfer double, just so we “know” it’s her out there riding those waves…she goes all in, regardless of silly monster movie milieu.
Bad music, bawdy green screen, and a noticeably bigger slice of cheese, it’s all there come the disappointing third act showdown between wounded lady and wary shark. Until then, enjoy the pretty colors and prettier faces, or face to be exact. Lively proves herself a spirited performer, and she’s been gifted a film around her that doesn’t skirt its responsibility to shock and schlock in equal measure. It knows when to up the ante to cringe-inducing effect. I can’t say The Shallows is a scary movie, but it’s definitely a nail-biting callback to the B-movies of yore, only with a little more talent in front of the camera and a little more finesse behind it.