The Shallows (2016), Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra

The Shallows (2016), Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra
I’m not dying here!
— Nancy, The Shallows (2016)

Stars: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Angelo Jose Lozano Corzo.
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Screenplay: Anthony Jaswinski

Survivor film 101; make sure you character has no way to communicate with the outside world while giving them instances that allow them to. This film nails that balance sublimely and Blake Lively nails her role as the protagonist of  Nancy. She sets out to an isolated beach that her mum went to while pregnant in 91' after her boozy friend bails to meet up with her. The beach has a secret name that no local will tell her—I'm pretty sure it would be named on google maps though...—and tells her family not to worry that she is still travelling the world by herself. 

The beach is paradise: perfect weather, barely anyone around, great surf, and generally safe enough to leave your belongings on the beach. After she is dropped off by her driver he asks her how she is going to get back to town, she replies with "an uber". She takes up her board, straps on her swim suit and heads into the surf. There are two kind male surfer locals who let her know the hazards of the beach; mainly the shallow waters that turn into little islands at low tide. All goes well but when Nancy goes out for one more wave it turns for the worst. The worst being a massive shark in the water that is not just happy with its whale catch earlier in the day. The others had already gone to shore by the time she realises that there is danger in the water and is attacked by the shark which leaves a massive gash on her leg. Luckily she gets away and is a med student who knows how to place a tourniquet to stop her from bleeding out.

The rest of the film is about her ability to survive and if she can receive help in time before she is either attacked again or dies from the elements. Much like 127 Hours the film follows how she is able to mentality last through a couple of harrowing days as she tries to survive.

Like any film like this it takes an impressive protagonist to make the film watchable and luckily Lively is in her element. There is never a moment that she is not interesting on screen, that you don't believe that she is capable of surviving. This film is intense, there were times that I screwed up my eyes due to anticipation. The effects were pretty amazing, though I was more fooled by the shark than their attempt to place Lively's face on her body double surfing the waves.

After a pretty unimpressive summer blockbuster lineup I bias-ly may like this film more than it deserves because it delivers on what it promises. It promises to be a small film about a woman who has to outwit and out survive a circling shark. The pacing is this film's strength, it doesn't feel too dragged out or too short to be effective. The Shallows is exactly what it needs to be.