We all need some downtime and in The Shallows medical student, Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) decides to get away from it all and ride the waves at a secluded beach in Mexico. Once in the water she guides her surfboard out to a very dead and very bloody whale, only to discover the killer, a large vicious shark, lurks nearby. The seafaring killer apparently thinks that Nancy's fate should be the same as the whale's. And her "downtime" should be permanent.
The Shallows is an intense battle between human and beast. However, this is a story that we have seen over and over. In Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 thriller, The Birds, actress Tippi Hedren comes under attack by a flock of birds gone mad. We saw it in Stephen King's Cujo, where lead character Donna Trenton does battle with a rabid St. Bernard.
Also, as is often the case in horror films or these types of dramas, characters find themselves in these nightmarish situations due to a series of bad decisions. Like here a young woman goes to an isolated beach, in a foreign country, all by herself.
Another problem with The Shallows is the writers try too hard to make Nancy a sympathetic character. She's a medical student which implies she's both smart and caring. She calls to check in on her little sister from the beach. And there is also a subtext that her mother is dead and might have been killed at that very same location!
While Blake Lively serves the purpose of the beautiful young heroine who is fit and athletic, her character is supposed to be from Galveston, Texas, which is in the southern part of that southern state, yet Lively who grew up in California doesn't have the slightest regional accent.
The positives are The Shallows dramatic and intense scenes. There are some edge-of-your- seat clashes between Nancy and the shark. We are accustomed to superhuman male protagonists, so it's good to see female leads showing that same type of credibility-stretching strength and vitality.
Shot in Australia, there's beautiful scenery – but frankly not any better than you'll see on HDTV. That's the problem; with so much entertainment available on big screen TVs, at our fingertips on our laptops and phones, movies have to offer us something exceptional. And The Shallows simply doesn't. And it's a Rent It – engaging but not worth the trip to a theater.
The Shallows is rated PG - 13 for bloody images, intense sequences of peril, and brief strong language and appropriately timed at 87 minutes.