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Shallows, The


Stars: Blake Lively

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

It's girl vs shark in the scariest, hairiest film of this kind since Jaws.

Nancy (Lively, right on the money), still undecided as to whether to complete medical studies, returns to the Mexican beach - the movie was shot in Australia - beloved of her late mother. She meets two other big-wave enthusiasts and there's lots of heavy-duty surfing before we get to the main event.

Paddling further out on her board in pursuit of a shoal of dolphins, Nancy is attacked by a massive great white shark. Badly bitten on the left leg, she swims desperately to temporary safety on a small rock, which she shares with a scene-stealing seagull she names Steven. Like her, the bird is damaged, and unable to fly.

The rest of the film is a battle of wits and wills between Nancy and the shark, which circles round the rock, aware that it will be eventually covered by high tide. A drunk on the beach takes Nancy's phone and money while she waves frantically from 200 metres out. Paddling towards her, he's consumed by the shark.

As all hope of help fades, Nancy faces a desperate swim to reach a nearby buoy as the water laps round the top of her rock...

Although it does have one or two silly moments - can't the returning surfers see the corpse on the beach? - the rest of the film is simply sensationally suspenseful, a real white-knuckle ride, especially at a climax that may have you watching through your fingers.

Brilliantly shot and nerve-shreddingly edited, the film only falls down on a recorded message left by Nancy, which gets rather too maudlin for comfort. Lively, virtually the only player, couldn't be better.

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by efilm.
85 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 07 Aug 2016