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Watching this clip, it’s easy to draw some very sturdy lines to a summer forty years ago when another shark movie made an entire generation afraid to get in the water. The Shallows is this decade’s Jaws-inspired monster in dark and from the short clip, has a lot going for it with a man (woman) versus nature vibe.
Blake Lively plays Mia, a surfer on her own who has her leg injured when a shark takes an exploratory bite. She scrambles to a reef that has a small section just above water and large enough to keep her entire body clear of the sea. With the shock of the wound and the predator still making turns about her position, there is little she can do but scream for help. That is until the tide comes in. With the safety of the shore 200 yards away, it’s a battle of wits to find a way to land without being killed.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who knows a thing or two about tension, having directed Liam Neeson twice in Non-Stop and Unkown, has also dabbled in horror with Orphan. The Shallows, previously entitled In The Deep, will depend on two things for success: the authenticity of the shark and a convincing performance from Lively, who is carrying the story in a mostly solo film. The shark is pivotal as sensibilities have changed a lot in the past few decades, and even though the media continues to try and hype the occasional shark-related incidents, a lot of people have become more aware of the misconceptions. That’s not to say great white sharks aren’t dangerous, but sympathies are shifting and a film about a terrorizing shark might not find the same audience as before. Still, the film seems to have the right idea and instead of a vengeful animal patrolling a beach of vacationers, this story is much more personal and maybe a bit more accurate. It is the unknown that makes this kind of story work and what works well in this trailer is the those long views of unknown open water to a shore that looks tantalizingly close. The cinematography is by Flavio Martínez Fabiano, who worked with Collet-Serra on the two Neeson films, has been in the business since the late 1980s and here has really captured the right look. The beach and surrounding islands are breathtaking but there is also a natural menace about it that adds a lot of weight to the trailer.
While the premise might be hard to maintain for a couple hours, there is a lot to feel good about right now and if this clip is any indication of the final film, we might just have a new Jaws on our hands.
The Shallows opens June 24, 2016
Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Sedona Legge