The Shallows (2016) – Review

Review: In post-mortem of Jaws, most shark movies sank deep into traps of genre tropes, stripping down the ‘human’ side and leaving the monster side roaming around. Most following shark movies failed deliberately into making real sense; while those which embrace the tropes wholeheartedly and present B-movie spirit came out as frontrunners – says Deep Blue Sea and the first Open Water. The Shallows come with the similar spirit with desperately thin but effective plot.

For that, director of Orphan and Liam Neeson’s actioners (Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night), Jaume Collet-Serra has a different agenda for the shark. More precisely, he has a special bait for the shark in forms of lonesome, sun-kissed Blake Lively in nothing but bikini. While you’re wondering if that works, I assure you that she’s the perfect bait we have now.

While the plot is string-thin the way the bikini looks; but, The Shallows isn’t hastily going to shark-rampage mode. It takes its privilege into going deeper into motivation and backstory of the protagonist, Nancy (Blake Lively) as she goes deeper through tropical woods into the exotic hidden beach. Before the real waves hit the ground, waves of history like Nancy’s decision to almost drop her medic school as well as her feud with her father hit the audience first.

Image via IMDb | Blake Lively

When the real waves appear, The Shallows takes little time to summon the terror. A hungry white shark awaits in the shallow of this surf paradise; but she’s nowhere before two other surfer gringos go ashore, while Nancy welcomes one last wave.

BACA JUGA: Review The Shallows dalam Bahasa Indonesia!

It takes a while, but the shark time really is the best part of this film, although the setup is humble. Jaume Collet-Serta and cinematographer Flavio Martinez Labiano consistently creates disturbing tension – with camera work that stalks Lively as if the camera wants to pounce her wholly and suddenly. Whether birdview or intimidating tracking shot or silhouette from behind the wave, the CGI-ed predator is frustratingly humble. The main principle is, if the protagonist cannot see the shark clearly, neither can the audiences. We are only allowed to know a little more than Lively’s ill-fated character.

While frequently looking campy with repetitive slo-mo, rough CGI and excessive close-ups of Lively’s body, The Shallows never appears tuppenny. The simplicity of everything is what really matters.

In terms of survival film, The Shallows doesn’t bother with plot complexity etc but Blake Lively, arranging survival tactics, going over trials and errors, then repeating the whole sequence. While some plothole potentials are around; but never really made a point before Blake Lively’s bruised, burned, pale, and gory skin returns to screen. That’s where the B-movie elements really matter.

Image via IMDb | Blake Lively

BACA JUGA: Review The Shallows dalam Bahasa Indonesia!

Most essential point in The Shallows is the focus to human character instead of the shark. However, the shark still gets a special treatment, which makes it more complex than it looks. While naturally shark is a predator with great sensitivity to blood; here, it’s depicted as a victim of humanity’s greed. However, it’s never clearly stated what drives the shark into a pure villain; it’s left ambiguous whether the shark is only committing an act of revenge, or she feels threatened because Nancy’s trespassing her preying area; or it’s just her nature. By making such thing less important, the human character gets all the development.

Blake Lively as the epicenter of this 80-minute bonanza isn’t actually special. Her character pops as if she’s directly imported from 80s femme fatale films, whose body is exploited more than the acting talent. However, she’s making a perfect bait for the suspension and intensity this film is carrying.

Thin plot, inconsistent pace and annoying plothole potentials are proven to be a good distraction; however, when we return to the shallow, The Shallows hypnotizes with rare summer blockbuster energy.

The Shallows (2016)

Horror, Thriller, Drama Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra Written by: Anthony Jaswinski Starred by: Blake Lively Runtime: 86 mins Rating PG-13



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