The Horror Honeys: The Shallows: A Compliment Sandwich Review

The Shallows: A Compliment Sandwich Review

A New Blu-ray Release Review with Revenge Honey Linnie

The Shallows (2016)

When a film exists for the sole purpose of entertainment, and absolutely nothing else, it's hard to cut it down. Such is the case with The Shallows, a movie that in different hands, and with a different star, would probably have ended up on SyFy. But as it is, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, Run All Night, the surprisingly adept House of Wax remake) and starring Blake Lively, it's not surprising that so many people reacted so positively to this latest entry in the killer shark genre. Still, as a critic who is automatically twitchy about films that cast sharks as vengeful super villains, and someone who has only seen Blake Lively in traveling pants, I went into The Shallows skeptical.

And turned it off feeling pretty much the same.

But, in the interest of fairness, and since The Shallows never pretends to be anything more than it is, this review is going to consist of a nice compliment sandwich.

No, not THAT kind of compliment sandwich.
This kind. But in reverse. Sorry, The Shallows.
Because it may not have been the worst thing I've ever seen, but I'm not going to let it off easy either.

It's like Blue Crush. But with the threat of amputation.
The Story: After Nancy's (Lively) mother dies, she takes a vision quest to the beach in Mexico (that is absolutely NOT Australia... eye roll) where her mother was standing when she found out she was pregnant with her. While surfing there, she is besieged by a shark that wants nothing more than to munch on her skinny white butt, and there is the extent of your movie. The shark wants to eat Nancy, and Nancy tries to survive, with no one but an injured seagull for company.

Bad Bun: If you watch The Shallows looking for logic, you will find none. This is not a film that dallies over little things like... facts. Or reality. The crux of the story is that Nancy ended up surfing in this shark's feeding ground, and regardless of the fact that the shark has fed on a frigging whale, now decides it also wants to eat Blake Lively's bony leg. Despite the years of damage done by Bruce's depiction in Jaws, sharks are not thrill killers, and they don't feed when they aren't hungry. It makes for a great thriller to have the shark in The Shallows intent on ripping Blake Lively limb-from-limb for shits and giggles, but frankly, I'd rather see a shark film that stuck to the facts. Or at least justified the attacks (ex: Deep Blue Sea).

But what happened to the seagull?
Each shot is like a postcard. A half-naked Myrtle Beach postcard.
Compliment Veggie Burger: Flavio Martínez Labiano's (Run All Night, Timecrimes, El día de la bestia) cinematography is gorgeous. In fact, The Shallows is just a beautiful movie. Even when it defies logical comprehension, you can't take your eyes off of it, which is by far its greatest asset. The CGI is also really well-handled, especially in the less showy scenes that don't involve shark attacks. Scenes of Lively swimming through fields of jellyfish (again, absolutely defying logic) are stunning, and they almost help to distract from the ridiculousness of what you're actually witnessing. The Shallows is a movie you can put on in the background while you work, because it's like a beautiful screensaver you don't actually have to pay attention to.

No. No, dear.
Bad Bun: The final act, when a film like The Shallows should really be amping up and getting the audience invested, is full of so many stupid coincidences and improbable acts of engineering magic that it might as well be an M. Night Shyamalan movie. I may have actually snort-laughed at the utter implausibility of Nancy's plan when it came time to face down the shark, as well as the billion-to-one odds of it ever working. Suspending disbelief is one thing, but being expected to suddenly pretend the movie takes place in a magic world where the laws of physics don't apply is quite another. Nice try, The Shallows, but I'm not biting. Minus an extra point for a totally unnecessary, tacked on "One Year Later" happy ending.

Seagull Sisterhood of the Stationary Bikini Bottoms
Bonus Optional French Fries: Again, I don't know much about Blake Lively. I never watched Gossip Girl and until literally three seconds ago, I forgot The Green Lantern existed. But for a film that she was forced to carry and spend her time fighting/talking to CGI creatures for the running time, she was solid. She was never annoying, or weak, and while she made some really stupid decisions, I never wanted to strangle her with her own hair. Which is saying a lot for a movie like The Shallows.

Revenge Honey Rating: 3 partially digested torsos out of 5

The Shallows is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube VOD, & blu-ray/DVD on September 27th!

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Belladonna Horror Mag: Belladonna 1.4
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