The news that Blake Lively is starring in a new film called The Shallows may sound like she’s taken a role in a more literal-minded spinoff of her teen soap smash Gossip Girl. But the dangers in Sony’s thriller are far more deadly than wearing the wrong shade of eyeshadow to the big gala or accidentally uploading your sex-tape to the cloud. The stakes in The Shallows don’t just end at social death; real death is also on the table.
Shrewdly described in Deadline as a combination of Jaws and 127 Hours, Jaume Collet-Serra’s (Non-Stop, Run All Night) thriller puts Lively in the role of Nancy, a soulful surfer who does a bit of introspection while catching some tasty waves in the wake of her mother’s death. But there’s trouble in paradise — literally, screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski went right ahead and named the idyllic stretch of beach that she frequents “Paradise.” While out carving up some gnarly tubage, Nancy finds herself targeted by a great white shark for dinner after it makes short work of a couple other surfers. She manages to scramble onto dry land, an outcropping of rocks about 200 yards from the shore. But with the sun getting lower in the sky and an increasingly hungry shark circling her shrinking refuge, she’ll have to employ every ounce of her ingenuity if she wants to survive.
There’s scarcely been any buzz for this film in advance of its June 29 release from Sony, and while a low-profile rollout such as this usually heralds a dud, the trailer doesn’t look half-bad. Shooting on the water is notoriously difficult, but the photography of Lively out at sea looks alternately beautiful and violent in turns. There’s a visceral quality to Lively struggling about in the water nearly filtered to the point of green-ness, and even though the shark-attacks could use some touching up in post-production, it looks more visually competent than most of Collet-Serra’s pictures. Could it be a summertime sleeper?