90 Minutes or Less: The Shallows [2016]

★★★★ “Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows is a taut survival thriller that reminds us that Jaws is still the best shark movie of all time.”

If you find yourself a bit burned out after a longer than it needed to be blockbuster, this is the perfect feature for you. As the title suggests, no movie longer than 90 minutes will be covered, so sit back and relax for approximately 90 minutes or less.

The shark movie genre isn’t what it used to be. Over the last fifteen years, it has become restricted to the small screen barring a few exceptions. Last summer’s The Meg was a fun reminder that the genre still has a big audience, but for the most part, the SyFy channel keeps churning out laughable hokums like Sharknado, Deep Blue Sea 2, and Mega Shark vs Some Other Inexplicably Large Sea Dwelling Creature. But every once in a while a shark movie makes the jump to the big screen, and we’re reminding that this isn’t a genre exclusively made up of cheap parodies.

Blake Lively stars as Nancy, on a break from med-school she’s off seeing parts of the world her late mother enjoyed in her youth. A local taxi driver takes her to a ‘secret beach’ famed for its legendary waves which Nancy has every intention of surfing. However, disaster strikes when Nancy is attacked by a Great White Shark and left stranded on a rock 200 yards from the shore. Now, Nancy has to figure out how to survive in a tense race against time before the tide comes in.

Every shark movie that will ever be made will be held up to Jaws as the gold standard. More than 40 years on from its release, Spielberg’s classic is still the best of its kind regardless of advancements in digital effects. Jaume Collet-Serra (The Commuter, Non-Stop) knows this, and he delivers an edge of your seat popcorn movie. While the heavy exposition opening threatens to sink into melodrama, the rapid-fire pace soon kicks in with some serious shark action. Films like Open Water, The Reef, and many more, have milked the lost at sea survival genre for all the terror possible. A simple relocation to a secluded beach in shallow water does wonders to add fresh horrors to a well-worn genre.

The Shallows provides some taut thrills in its lean running with a powerful performance from Blake Lively. The ending might betray the authenticity of the previous 80 minutes, but it’s a wildly entertaining ride.

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