The Shallows (2016)

JAUME COLLET-SERRA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  USA, 2016.  , , .  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

 is an avid surfer who has just discovered a secret beach on a trip to Mexico that she knows her now-deceased mother once loved spending time on.  Her friend with whom she was supposed to go surfing has bailed on her, leaving her to hang ten by herself in the beautiful sunlight and the nearly abandoned shores, populated only by a few other people who are there for the same activity.  Sounds like paradise, except that while catching waves, Lively encounters the greatest possible threat to fun on the beach, a giant great white shark who almost devours her before she manages to get herself perched upon a rocky promontory in the water.  Now only a few hundred feet from shore, she must find a way to keep a very nasty injury from getting the best of her (in one of the nastiest self-surgery scenes in a long while) and also deal with the fact that the change in tides will alter her enemy’s access to her lunchable body, all the while accompanied by an injured seagull who seems content to stay by her side.  This Gravity Goes To Beach adventure is an expertly assembled collection of terror and mayhem situations, ably led by Lively’s performance and full of some very scary scenes of near misses and bloody violence.  Director Jaume Collet-Serra is no Alfonso Cuaron, however, so he feels perfectly free to put the realism aside and indulge in Hollywood-level manipulations (particularly in the climax).  Between that and a few visual effects that misfire (large aquatic life seems to be the only thing that computer graphics wizards can’t rescue from the Uncanny Valley at this juncture), the film is not that much more than a good genre indulgence, but it is genuinely scary and and a good time to be had.

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