Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: The Shallows

of 6 viewers "Liked" "The Shallows" (USA, 2016)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

Math Mage - "There is nothing surprising about The Shallows; you've seen the trailer, it's 90 minutes of that. That's not to say it isn't good, because it is. Except for a few laugh out loud moments (how did the shark cut him in half?) and a tacked-on feeling ending, the film was well made and suspenseful. One element in particular: I often complain about the unrealistic response to injury in horror movies. This film takes wounds seriously (including effects like blood loss), up until the very end when she goes full action girl." - 3 Stars

Clark Little - "Five minutes into the movie, a stylistic choice is made by the director. I hate that choice. It's off putting and a bit confounding and it doesn't go away. Neither does the boredom or my apathy towards our "cover girl" protagonist. This is the only case outside of West Side Story where I pulled for a shark. This movie is not made for me. I get that. The mind numbing exposition and slow motion surfing sequences set to some sort of Electric Daisy inspired score, made me wish I was stranded alone surrounded by death instead of being surrounded by excited moviegoers who became transfixed by whirling cameras, ridiculous looking CGI oceanic creatures and the comic relief of the film, which came in the form of a bloody, crippled seagull." - 1 Star

Dabbles - "First and foremost this entire first half of the movie felt like a giant commercial but was built pretty well in the sense of visuals. There are a few special effects that totally annoyed me and that I believe the movie could have done without, areas where simplicity would have been stronger. What really worked for me in this movie was the sense of suspense using the sounds of the waves in the air as it moves above and below water. They used the soundscape and practical effects greatly which was the better pay off. The character work from Blake Lively is pretty simple, for some reason it worked for her, but it didn't give me a feeling of wanting her to win in this situation. It made me feel more like a fly on the wall than an "in her shoes" kind of experience... I am really on the fence with this one, a lot of it worked for me, but then a lot of it didn't." - 3 Stars

Lord Battle - "It's hard to resist the obvious pun and just riff on how The Shallows is actually a shallow film. Instead I'd like like to point out all of the other, more interesting directions this film could have gone but that's kinda the same thing. So I'll just say The Shallows is a beautifully shot, well acted film, that I would not recommend to horror/challenging film fans. I wouldn't say to stay away because it's terrible or boring, I'd just say The Shallows doesn't tread any new waters." - 3 Stars (I'd purchase a used bluray just to own a few select moments)

The Impostor - "If there's one film I've seen this year that surprised me it would be The Shallows. I went in not expecting much and I was blown away. Beautiful scenery, simple story-line that played out quite well. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Blake Lively had some authentic moments of hopelessness and pain, she carried the film quite well. I was rooting for her the whole time which added to the tension. The minuses for The Shallows for me would have to be a few CGI scenes that came off a bit weird, out of place and comedic. Overall I'd definitely recommend this gripping survival horror to anyone. I felt it's a great way to start off the summer." - 4 Stars

Huntress - "The Shallows was a pretty fun summer-horror movie with some very surprising effects that made me squirm in my seat. I had a very pronounced moment of wondering how the hell are they were going to turn this story into a feature film almost as soon as Nancy's situation started to change from fun in the sun to dangerous, but it happened and it wasn't boring. I admit I raised my eyebrow a handful of times during the first half of the movie, but as the sandy paradise turned to treachery, the pretty blonde revealed how tough she really was. Even if you think you know where it's going, The Shallows is worth a watch." - 3.5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

It's safe to say that The Shallows is a fairly straight forward film, unless you'd like to argue that perhaps she actually dies at the end. I could see some justification to that position even though its pretty clear she survives. Yet days after watching The Shallows I found myself still trying to ponder one of the film's seemly meaningless yet center stage characters, the seagull.

Given hints from the film, I've come to the conclusion that the seagull is a metaphor for Nancy's mother's death. Much like the fiend in The Babadook, the bird is a physical medium for her intense emotions.
Now you may find yourself asking how I came to support this absurd theory but if you look closely at how Nancy interacts with the bird, she seems to be uncharacteristically mean or even uncaring. This is strange as the film constantly reminds us that she's a doctor because she wants to help people and that's who she is. Then why does she try to force down an unappetizing crab while staring the obviously cute and hungry seagull in the eyes. I think this moment was meant to show that Nancy will do anything to survive, even deny a helpless animal a much needed meal.

Of course karma gets Nancy as she can't hold the crab down and regurgitates her meal in a very mother-bird way for the gull.
A little later in the film, Nancy names the seagull Steven and is even at one point woken up by him alerting her of another human presence. These moments are pretty clear cut, they are both victims of circumstance and are stranded because of it. The strange thing is that it honestly feels that she may use Steven as a distraction at any given point. This tension feels wrong as our survivor girl Nancy can't really be contemplating this animals life as a distraction. I mean they clearly focus on explaining how understanding and caring she is... Then she resets his wing.
The dislocated wing moment is weird because it came so late in her stay on the rock. She had already patched her self up long ago and had been quite aware of the birds wound, so why now? This is the moment in the narrative where Nancy stops trying to compromise who she is in order to get along with the universe. She is now clearly unwilling to sacrifice Steven to the gods in exchanged for her own life. This all feels like a test, like Nancy's mom has possessed Steven and is using him as a moral judge to make sure she gets out of this nightmare mentally sound and focused on who she is and what she wants. It's not enough for her to just survive anymore, no now they both have to make it out.
If you like strange films that feature paranormal birds, checkout The Vatican Tapes. The crow in that film is equally puzzling/absurd.

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized on 6/24/2016 for the 7PM show at Century Tanforan.
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not effect the rating.

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