The Shallows Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Directed by Jaune Collet-Serra
Written by Anthony Jaswinski
2016, 86 minutes, Rated PG-13
Blu-ray released on September 27th, 2016
Blake Lively as Nancy
Óscar Jaenada as Carlos
Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo as Surfer 1
Brett Cullen as Dad
Sedona Legge as Chloe
I have an irrational fear of water. I'm not necessarily afraid to go swimming (I can swim, after all), but it's very rare that I will go past where I can stand with my neck still above the water when I'm at the beach. I used to try and convince myself that it was because I couldn't see anything around me, as I hadn't been someplace where the water was clear enough. That all changed when I went snorkeling in Jamaica and I saw EVERYTHING. One glance down into the depths, and my fat ass made a beeline right back to the boat that had taken us out there, where I patiently waited and quietly judged the fools still in the water for their bad decision making and certain impending death. So, basically, I just don't like what's going on in the mysterious underwater world. That's why movies like Jaws and Piranha and to a certain extent, even Lake Placid hold a special place in my heart...they scare the living shit out of me.
So, naturally, when I saw the first trailer (and the only one I watched) for The Shallows, I got excited. It looked absolutely terrifying. On one hand, I knew I had to see it, but on the other, I had to contain my expectations. Realistically, while there have been many shark movies since the granddaddy of them all, Jaws, came out; most of them are mediocre at best. And we all know how a trailer will just show the best part of the movie it's advertising (at times even spoiling things), so my excitement had to be checked. Luckily for me, The Shallows both met and exceeded my expectations.
The Shallows wastes little time setting up its story and getting right to the action. Nancy (Blake Lively, Gossip Girl) is dead set on surfing at a location her mother had once surfed herself. Seeing how her mom has passed away, this is pretty important to her. Her BFF deserted her for a guy she met at a club, but Nancy is driven and she is more than capable of taking this item off her bucket list, with or without company. Arriving at "paradise", she finds it empty save for a couple of fellas already out catching waves with their boards. The three have a grand time, and eventually the guys depart, leaving Nancy to enjoy the water on her own. Well, I think we all can agree that being alone in the water is nothing more than a giant invitation for a great white shark to come up and try and eat you, and that's exactly what happens from here. Stuck on small outcrop of rocks, just enough for her to lay down on, Nancy might only be 200 yards from shore, but she might as well be 200 miles.
I have to give The Shallows all sorts of credit. First, for a film with basically one location and one star, it's exceptional. Lively carries the movie on her shoulders flawlessly. Normally I hate films where the characters talk to themselves for exposition's sake, but here it's somewhat necessary at times. However, it's all rather seamless here, partly due to Lively's outstanding performance and partly due to the fact that she does have something to talk to; a little seagull with a busted wing (and don't let anyone tell you what she names the little guy, it will spoil the magic). So when she must fill the audience in on something, it comes across more natural than most.
The thrills and scares are plentiful. If you know it's a shark movie going in, the moment Nancy hits the water and the camera follows her both above and below the waves, there is tension. Without fail, every time I got of glimpse of under her board, I was squinting in those brief seconds to find the shark that would inevitably ruin her day. And when you finally get a look at that scarred beast, you'll find it is well worth the wait. This man-eater has been through war, and you can tell by the marks left on its body and the hook still lodged in its mouth. This sucker is the reason why I don't go in above my neck (although sharks have been known to attack in waist-deep water, so I'm now rethinking that as well). And like any good monster, it's determined.
Although its ending is a bit questionable (you really have to suspend disbelief as it's out there), but considering how good everything is up to that point, it barely noticeable. (Don't worry, we aren't talking a Haute Tension ender here, just a bit of a head scratcher). The Shallows isn't Jaws (and I don't even think it's trying to be), but it's arguably one of the best shark films to come out since that first summer blockbuster and will certainly be going into heavy rotation in my player when I'm in the mood for a great (white) movie. Who said PG-13 movies don't deliver the scares?
Video and Audio:
The Shallows has a great picture, as expected. Flesh tones are natural, the blood pops, and the finer detail like the shark's scarring is great.
Equally solid is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.
- Deleted Scenes
- Shooting in the Shallows
- When Sharks Attack
- How to Build a Shark
- Finding the Perfect Beach
Kicking things off are three deleted scenes. These add nothing to the film, but the inclusion of one, Chloe Sees the Shark, is most interesting because it changes when the shark is first sighted.
Shooting in the Shallows (5:57) barely touches the surface of what happened behind-the-scenes of shooting. At just under six minutes, it's very frustrating because it's too short. One of the coolest parts found in this featurette, though, is the brief shots of the tank they shot in.
Next up is When Sharks Attack (7:34), which consists of an interview with Steven Robles, a shark-attack survivor sharing his experiences of that awful day. There is also a shark expert who pretty much tells you that you are going to get by accident or as a warning that you are on their turf.
How to Build a Shark (6:56) goes through the process of the bringing the shark to life from drawings to models to CGI. Like Shooting in the Shallows, you're left with wanting more.
Rounding out the featurettes is Finding the Perfect Beach (6:01), a piece that concentrates on the shooting location.