The Shallows has been called the best shark movie since Jaws. Although you may or may not agree with that statement, we can all agree that the Blake Lively thriller was a great little shark movie. It proved that there can be really good shark attack movie after the incredible Jaws.
Shark movies need certain aspects for them to be a successfully thrilling movie and The Shallows does have those aspects. Let's list the 4 things that made The Shallows a great modern shark movie.
4. Use A One-Location Setting
Having just one location isn't bad for any movie and is especially useful for a shark movie. You see, having this one location setting can be useful in creating suspense. The director can milk every inch of tension and suspense around the area. Audience members will see the main character(s) and witness their fear slowly mounting. This creates rising tension and keeps audiences at the edge of their seat begging the character(s) to find a safe place.
Using this one location setting highlights what audience members came for to see in a shark movie, the shark. Viewers want to see the shark in action, so using one location is perfect as people usually don't want to separate from the shark. Remember that the shark is the most exciting part of your movie.
3. Don't Show The Shark Too Much
Camera magic is needed because it's one of the most important parts of creating suspense. Long takes to quick cuts, camera work will make tension happen. The Shallows does a great job with this as they don't always show the shark. One of the things audiences loved about Jaws was the fact that they didn't always know where the shark was. Knowing where the shark is at all time kills the suspense. When the character(s) do try to escape, the audience should never know where the shark is or where it will appear.
2. Great Performances Are Needed
Blake Lively was terrific in The Shallows. She gave a strong performance and helped sell the back story. This is needed in a shark movie because you need to care about the characters. Every audience member needs to be able to care about your main character because that is part of the suspense. If you don't care about the main character than you'll be rooting for the shark and any tension the director wants you to feel is defeated.
1. Keep It Simple
Shark. People. Water. Yes, a shark movie needs to be simple. One of the better aspect of The Shallows was the fact that the director kept it simple. With a simple premise, you have time to dive into the characters' personality and back story as well as creating lots of tension. The simplicity, if well utilized, will help the movie become what it needs to be, thrilling, scary and suspenseful.