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The Shallows is a 2016 horror survival film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, written by Anthony Jaswinski and starring Blake Lively. It tells the story about a surfer who gets stranded 200 yards (180 m) from shore, and must use her wits and determination to survive her encounter from a great white shark attack.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Shortly after the death of her mother, medical student Nancy Adams travels to a secluded beach in Baja California, the same beach her mother visited while she was pregnant with Nancy. Carlos, a friendly local resident, gives Nancy a ride and drops her off at the beach. Nancy joins two other locals and the three surf for several hours. Taking a break from surfing, Nancy video-chats with her sister Chloe. When she talks to her father in an emotional and strained conversation, it is revealed that her mother's death caused Nancy to consider dropping out of medical school.

While surfing one last time for the day, Nancy notices the corpse of a large humpback whale nearby. As she rides the last wave back to the beach, a huge great white shark knocks her off her surfboard and bites painfully into her leg. Nancy climbs onto the whale carcass, but the shark rams it from underneath, forcing her to swim to an isolated rock. She uses her surfboard strap to slow the bleeding from her leg. Later, she uses her jewelry to put rudimentary stitches in place to hold her torn flesh together. Nancy is left alone when the unaware locals leave the beach, and she spends the night on the rock with a wounded seagull, which was also injured by the shark, and names him Steven Seagull. The next morning, a drunk man on the beach steals Nancy's belongings. While wading out into the shallow water to steal Nancy's surfboard, he is killed by the shark. Several hours later, the two locals Nancy had surfed with the day before return. They get into the water before Nancy can warn them away and are also killed by the shark.

One of the local surfers was wearing a GoPro camera on his helmet. When he was attacked by the shark, his helmet had come off and floated to the surface. Nancy later sees the helmet floating in the water. After some struggle, she is able to retrieve it and notices in the footage of the attack, the shark has a large hook stuck in its mouth after a possible encounter with fishermen. Nancy uses the GoPro to leave messages for her sister and father as well as information about the shark attack and her location.

With high tide approaching, Nancy realizes the rock will be submerged soon. After sending Steven Seagull toward shore on a piece of the surfboard, and timing the shark's circles from the whale carcass to the rock, Nancy swims to a nearby buoy, narrowly avoiding the shark by swimming through a group of jellyfish, which electrocute both the shark and her. Nancy finds a flare gun on the buoy. She shoots a flare to draw the attention of a faraway cargo ship, but the ship has already turned away and does not see her. She then fires another flare at the shark, setting the oil from the whale carcass alight and making it angry, but otherwise having no effect. The shark ferociously attacks the buoy and rips out the chains securing it to the ocean bed. Nancy straps herself to the last remaining chain and as it is ripped from the buoy, she is pulled down to the ocean floor, pursued by the shark. At the last moment, Nancy pulls out of the dive, and the shark impales itself on some rebar from the buoy's anchor, killing it.

Later, a boy named Miguel at the beach finds the action camera and informs his father, Carlos. Carlos finds Nancy floating close to shore and revives her. Nancy briefly sees a hallucination of her mother. As she looks around the beach, she sees that Steven Seagull has also made it to the shore. One year later, a healed Nancy (now a doctor) and Chloe go surfing in Galveston, Texas, as their father tells Nancy that her mother would have been proud.

List of Deaths[edit | edit source]

Name Cause of Death Killer On Screen Notes
Mrs. Adams Unknown N/A
Surfer #1 Devoured Shark
Drunk Mexican Guy Bitten, Cut in Half Shark
Surfer #2 Devoured Shark
Shark Impaled on Rebar Itself

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Blake Lively as Nancy Adams
  • Óscar Jaenada as Carlos
  • Brett Cullen as Mr. Adams
  • Sedona Legge as Chloe Adams
  • Pablo Calva as Miguel, Carlos' son
  • Janelle Bailey as Mrs. Adams
  • Sully Seagull as Sully 'Steven' Seagull

Production[edit | edit source]

Initially, Louis Leterrier was to direct, though he dropped out in June 2015, leading to Jaume Collet-Serra being considered for the job. Collet-Serra viewed the movie as one about survival and noted "this isn't a creature movie". Likewise from the very beginning Collet-Serra decided not to place an emphasis on gore. Blake Lively joined the cast in August 2015. Lively was partly inspired by her husband, Ryan Reynolds', work in the similarly minimalist film Buried, stating "that was one of the reasons why I wanted to take on this movie so much, because I know how tough that was for him and how rewarding it was."

For the seagull character of Steven Seagull, the usage of both CGI and a puppet was considered based on the belief that it would be inordinately hard to train such a bird to act. This "horrified" both producers, Matti Leshem and Lynn Harris, who wanted to work with an actual animal. While scouting for location in Australia, Lively was able to feed a group of seagulls, at which point it was realized that it would be possible to use them for production. The initial script featured Lively talking to the bird much more, and likewise, scenes featuring such an interaction were shot. However, in the end, Collet-Serra decided on a less-is-more approach, noting to Yahoo! that "...we didn't want her to be like Snow White talking to animals. When you see her predicament, you get it. You don't need her to explain everything to a seagull!"

Filming[edit | edit source]

Principal photography on the film began on October 28, 2015 in New South Wales, Australia. Filming also took place at Lord Howe Island, Mount Tamborine, Queenslandand Village Roadshow Studios. It originally was going to be filmed on the Gulf Coast of Texas near Galveston, but the filmmakers were denied a film permit for safety reasons. Filming wrapped on January 15, 2016.

Much of the film was shot in a tank using bluescreens for effects. Still, Collet-Serra wanted to avoid the "more stylized look" of similar films using the set up and estimated that 10% of the film was shot on location in order to "trick" the audience into believing the setting was real: he explains: "Every scene has one shot that is real, and the other 99% is not – but the one real shot tricks you". The great white shark was made entirely through computer generated imagery, which was only completed close to the start of the marketing campaign for the film. The film noted that the use of CGI was unusual for Collet-Serra, as he typically used practical effects as opposed to the digital ones required by the shoot. Lively ended up performing several of her own stunts, including a scene where her character breaks her nose. In reality, Lively really did hurt herself in that scene and the blood on her nose is real.

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