THE SHALLOWS (USA/12A/86mins) Directed by Juame Collet-Serra. Starring Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Angela Jose, Lozano Corzo, Jose Manual, Trujillo Salas, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge. THE PLOT: Having just flunked out of medical school, the footloose and fancy-free Nancy (Lively) is on a spiritual journey, to the secret Mexican beach where her late mum conceived her. Hitching a ride with local Carlos (Jaenada), Nancy can’t even charm the name of this hideaway paradise before she’s suddenly there. Out on the waves, two locals surfing the evening waves, Nancy giving a quick call to her beloved little sis and her disappointed dad before joining them. As they pack up though, Nancy notices the bloody carcass of a whale floating nearby. And then she quickly discovers the cause, as a shark knocks her from her board and bites into her thigh. Managing to scramble to a nearby rock, Nancy’s call to the departing surfers falls on deaf ears. After a little med-student-heal-thyself makeshift surgery, Nancy realises that she’s going to have to come up with a plan if she’ll survive beyond high tide… THE VERDICT: ‘The Shallows’ is a taut, tight and thrillingly terrifying jolt to the system. Director Jaume Collet-Serra delivers far beyond his pedestrian genre career could have predicted, hitting the right balance between old-fashioned blood spills and attack thrills with the sensual world of someone caught in the eye of a storm that may very much engulf them. Never flashy, modern technology means we can duck above and below the sea, that dark parallel universe below just waiting to pull another holidaymaker through that looking glass.
Lively (known largely for the TV series ‘Gossip Girl’) is well-cast as the ripped Ripley, her tanned and toned body proving well prepared for this battle to the death. Man, after so many recent blockbuster bombs, it’s great to see a small movie that can fill a cinema with enough electrical charge to fry and entire cast and crew of ‘Suicide Squad’. RATING: 4/5 Review by Paul Byrne