I saw Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows (2016) at The Rave just off of UPenn’s campus with my friends Stephen and Virginia. Virginia chooses these films with our consent under the assumption that these films would somehow represent a contemporary manifestation of the kind of exploitative cinema that the three of us love (my expectations being set more specifically along the lines of Roger Corman’s productions in the eighties).
The experience of The Shallows certainly came close to this. As Virginia put it The Shallows was the first “serious shark movie” in a long time. The Shallows was rather preposterous, a drawn out battle between Blake Lively and a CGI shark. That was the film’s narrative; escape the shark. The subtext of the film was that the love that Blake Lively’s character had for her deceased mother (a victim of cancer) could enable her to do anything. This sentimental detail, designed to raise the stakes for the audience, really did nothing more than elicit a rather comical commentary from our fellow theater goers.
The true purpose of The Shallows though was to give the audience the opportunity to drink in Blake Lively’s body with our eyes for upwards of ninety minutes.
This piece was first published in September 2016.