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Non-Review Review: The Shallows

The Shallows has a pretty great high concept that it stretches just far enough that it begins to creak, but not so far that it snaps back in the audience’s face.

The Shallows is very much a pulpy creature feature horror film, with a healthy dash of tourist anxieties thrown in for good measure. It is a film about a young surfer who finds herself stranded on a rock about two hundred metres from shore as she is menaced by a really determined shark. It is very much a high-tension high-stakes survival thriller, one that lends itself to pithy summaries like Jaws meets Phone Booth or Buried, where the part of Iraq is played by a menacing computer-generated shark.”

Still waters...

Still waters…

It is an absurd set up to sustain across a ninety-minute runtime, and it is to the credit of The Shallows that the movie realises this. The Shallows never resists the absurdity of its premise. It never hesitates or second-guesses itself. The film moves incredibly quickly, recognising that any moment where the tension slips is a moment at which the audience might begin question the underlying assumptions that hold the film together. Like its animal antagonist, The Shallows understands that it needs to keep moving forward if it is to survive.

The result is a survival horror movie less interested in subverting or deconstructing classic genre tropes than it is revelling in the pulpy possibilities of a story like this. The Shallows is much stronger for that.

Oh buoy...

Oh buoy…

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