It’s October! Time for scary movies! Right? While it isn’t exactly the Halloweeniest movie out there, I decided to skip school last night to watch The Shallows. Totes worth it!
The film is about a young lady who goes surfing at a secluded beach somewhere in the depths of Mexico. Or, I suppose, on the fringe of Mexico. Whatever. It’s out of the way, and a secret to everybody who isn’t a local. If you know nothing else about this movie yet, I recommend that you stop reading here and go watch it. The less you know going in, the better.
If you aren’t interested in actually watching it, yeah, might as well keep reading.
Of course, this isn’t a silly teen feel-good surfer movie. It is a shark attack movie! Why else would I be so excited about it that I felt the need to put words to a page? And unlike the current, trendy, low-budget, intentionally bad shark attack movies, this one is very much serious and very much intense. It gets pretty hard to watch for a while, actually, after the initial attack.
To chart out the basics of the plot, Girl goes surfing, Girl meets some guys in the water, guys go away, and Girl is left alone to catch one final wave. But then she finds a half-eaten (but still alive!) whale that somehow they had all missed before (???) and it’s pretty gross so obviously she turns around. As she is putting some distance between it and herself, CHOMP!
Now she’s got a big ol’ gash up her thigh, and is bleeding profusely. Since the shore is much too far away, she paddles back to the whale and tries to ride it to safety.
Yes, that is a thing that happens.
But then Mr Shark rams the whale from below, sending the thing flying into the air. This, of course, is no regular shark. It is in fact a super shark. This is never outright stated in the film, but there is no lack of evidence to support the fact that this shark has been bred to be genetically superior to all other ocean life forms. Well, even moreso than sharks are naturally. So Girl leaps off the airborne whale and books it to a nearby rock that has appeared thanks to the tide going out.
She then proceeds to clean, suture, and compress her wound as best as she can with only ocean water, earrings, and half a wetsuit to do so. She is a doctor in training, after all, so this totally checks out. One of the most endearing parts of the movie is how she talks to herself as if she was working on another patient. It’s cute, and I suppose it’s her way of making the process a little easier.
Three more folks are gobbled up by Super-Shark, and Girl is given the business by a number of tiny crabs, the elements (both the cold nighttime air and scorching daytime sun), some fire coral, and a swarm of jellyfish. She is in really rough gosh darn shape by the climax. As the tide comes back in the next day, she decides to swim over to a nearby buoy, because the rock she’s been lounging on is quickly being submerged.
This is when things get really nuts. In the next ten minutes, Girl stabs the shark with a torn off ladder rung, shoots it with a flare, and then lights the darn thing on fire. Super-Shark is more pissed than any shark has ever been, and this game is no longer about getting a snack; now it’s personal.
Super-Shark takes a massive bite out of the base of the buoy and knocks it over. It then eats away at the metal cage that is protecting Girl, piece by piece. I am no sharkatologist, but I’m pretty sure that this is not how sharks actually behave. I have it on good authority that a normal shark would have given up on this quarry long ago. Hence my Super-Shark theory.
I don’t even know what or how it happened, but Girl then somehow dislodges the anchoring chain from the buoy, which rockets her down towards the ocean floor, with Super-Shark in hot pursuit. She gracefully jukes to the side at the very last minute, and Super-Shark impales itself on a bunch of pointy garbage that I guess was the anchor? Like I said, I have no idea what was going on here, only that it was completely insane and probably not very realistic at all.
It is worth noting that despite being railed by at least two dozen spikes, Super-Shark does not bleed a drop. Whereas any time a people gets even a little scratch, the water around them immediately turns crimson in a radius of at least seven feet.
With the threat of Super-Shark a thing of the past, Girl passes out and lets the tide float her back to the beach, where she is rescued by the fellow who drove her to Secret Beach in the first place, and then she has a hallucination of her dead mom. Cut to a year later, when she has recovered from all of her nasty wounds and is teaching her little sister how to surf. Aww, what a happy ending! Except for those other three dudes who got turned into chum. They… they did not get a happy ending.
Oh! I almost forgot! Girl tries to eat one of those tiny crabs I mentioned earlier, but it’s so bad that she throws up all over her safety rock. That scene really resonated with me. Crab is pretty gross. No, wait, that’s lobster. Crab’s alright. I don’t know what’s wrong with that girl.
So yeah, that’s about the gist of it. The most lovable character in the film is Steven, who was trapped on the same rock as Girl for the longest time. He ended up making it out alive too, so that was great. I would have been very sad if Steven had been eaten.
The worst thing about it is that like all of these survival-type movies with very few characters, a lot of the run time is devoted to establishing shots and time-lapses. So really, there’s a bunch of footage here that is literally nothing. On the other hand, the film is a breezy less-than-90-minutes, so it doesn’t feel like an huge time investment. Just have your phone on hand so you can Tinder or something for two minutes here and there when they decide to linger on a shot of the horizon for too long.
Overall, yeah, I ‘d recommend The Shallows. It tries very hard to be serious and intense, but it’s got a little levity sprinkled throughout, and some straight-up corniness that I’m fairly certain is unintentional. Go on and give it a watch. I mean, you probably won’t enjoy it quite as much if you just read all this and now know exactly what’s going to happen, but I think it’s still worth it.
(BTW, Girl had an actual name, but I forgot what it was and there’s no way I’m doing any research.)