“The Shallows” is being praised by critics as being “the best shark movie since ‘Jaws'” — the 1975 horror classic that spawned the genre.
Star Blake Lively is praised as “solid and convincing in the role,” and the thriller has a cumulative 74 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
“While ‘Jaws’ transcended its genre trappings to become art, ‘The Shallows’ is a rousing, effective B-movie, and that’s an art in and of itself,” wrote TheWrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde.
“The Shallows” follows med school dropout Nancy, who returns to a beach her late mother visited while pregnant with her. Once Nancy enters the water to surf, she becomes the target of a vicious shark.
The film had a strong start at the Thursday previews, grossing $1.33 million, on track to earn $7 million to $8 million this weekend.
See 11 of the best reviews below.
Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post:
“All that said, it’s still nice — really nice — to see a film about a woman in jeopardy who turns out to be resourceful and brave. The camera may linger at times a bit too long on Nancy’s bikini bottom or on the décolletage of her neoprene wet suit jacket, but she’s no helpless damsel in distress. That’s as refreshing as a dip in the ocean. Collet-Serra has a good eye for scenery, too. Although the surfing sequences are merely adequate, the beach setting is beautifully shot, even in the scariest scenes. Is ‘The Shallows’ a thriller for the ages? No, but it’s decent popcorn fare. It’s about as deep as the titular lagoon on which it’s set, but the breakers promise a short and heart-pounding ride, with no wipeout.”
Adam Graham, Detroit News:
“Collet-Serra, director of Liam Neeson movies (he’s made ‘Non-Stop,’ ‘Run All Night’ and ‘Unknown’ with Neeson), brings steady, visceral chills, sparingly showing the shark early on and letting its presence be its own menace. Lively is perhaps a bit too calm and together, especially considering she’s nursing a gaping wound and has only an apple in her stomach. But for what it is, ‘The Shallows’ works. It’s just as much about our own fears and what we bring to it as what’s up on screen.”
Simon Thompson, IGN:
“‘The Shallows‘ does for surfing what ‘The Blair Witch Project’ did for camping and makes ‘Jaws’ look like a children’s tea party. Played out with precision and skill, it delivers everything it suggests it will and then some. Terrifyingly good.”
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:
“The movie shows Nancy and the shark dueling for dominance. Given her medical training, our heroine can turn a wet suit into a tourniquet or use her necklace to stitch up a nasty gash. As Nancy waits for a rescue, she pours out her feelings to a wounded seagull who seems to represent her dead mom. (I’m figuring the shark is a symbolic warning not to quit school.) It’s all patently ridiculous. But Collet-Serra and Lively show no mercy in hooking us with the B-movie tension. And we bite.”
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times:
“Filmed in New South Wales, Australia, ‘The Shallows’ is a great-looking film, peppered with overhead long shots of the amazingly clear water, and some terrific underwater photography as well. Lively is a real gamer in a physical role that calls for her to swim, surf, endure shark bites and jellyfish stings, and we’re just getting started. Even when she’s suffering from dehydration, gaping wounds, early onset gangrene, hunger and thirst, she still looks better than most humans do after a 10-day vacation. Most of Lively’s scenes are monologues, and while she’s not about to make you forget about a young Meryl Streep, she’s solid and convincing in the role.”
Liz Braun, Toronto Sun:
“‘The Shallows’ is brisk and engaging, and a great vehicle for Lively. The film has the sort of breathtaking cinematography that will inspire you to visit the ocean. And a story that may stop you from ever going into the water again.”
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times:
“If you’re looking for a quick and satisfying summer thrill — a reminder that all you really need to make a movie is a girl and a flare gun — then the aptly titled ‘The Shallows’ should serve you nicely.”
Alan Cerny, ComingSoon.net:
“For much of ‘The Shallows’ running time, it’s effective, entertaining, and scary. The movie is short, but there isn’t a wasted moment in its 85 minutes. This was surprisingly fun, emotional, and thrilling.”
Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
“I enjoyed this movie. It’s exactly what I thought it would be. It’s not corny, even though it easily could have been. I knew with director Jaume Collet-Serra involved, it wouldn’t be corny. So when I say, ‘it’s exactly what I thought it would be,’ that’s as someone who likes ‘Non-Stop,’ ‘Unknown,’ and ‘Run All Night.’ I look at Collet-Serra as someone who does “tight action” very well.
And it’s pretty intense! You never know when this Giant Shark is going to leap out of the water right into your face. It’s water terror porn, basically.
Gregory Wakeman, CinemaBlend:
“While hardly reinventing the wheel (you’ll need to forgive a hefty dose of dramatic license and cheese to embrace its conclusion), ‘The Shallows’ delivers the requisite thrills. And with a running time of just 87 minutes, it’s a concise blast of summer cinematic fun that’ll chill, shock, and keep you thoroughly entertained.”
David Ehrlich, IndieWire:
“Unequivocally the best shark movie since ‘Jaws’ (yes, even better than ‘Open Water’ and ‘Deep Blue Sea’), this back-to-basics thriller either eliminates or reclaims all of the excess and gimmickry that have watered down the genre since Steven Spielberg first invented it — there’s only one killer fish, she’s shot in beautiful 2D, and it doesn’t appear as though the beast has developed the ability to swim backwards as the result of reckless genetic modifications.”