"Fighting for Survival"

What You Need To Know:

In THE SHALLOWS, a medical school dropout heads to the Mexican coast to find her mother's favorite beach after her death of cancer. The beach is just like the scene in her mother's photos. Wasting no time, she hits the waves and meets two local surfers. Left alone at the end of the day, Nancy encounters a shark that bites her thigh. Nancy is marooned on the rocks during low tide, a few hundred yards from shore. Meanwhile, the shark continues to hunt anyone entering the water. Nancy has until high tide to figure out how to survive.

Anyone into JAWS or thrillers will enjoy THE SHALLOWS. The plot may lack the sophistication of the first JAWS movie, but makes up for it as a gritty man against beast story. The movie’s downfall is its predictability. Like MacGyver, Nancy miraculously finds all the tools she needs at just the right time. There are some touching moments with family members and an injured seagull. The scary violence stems mostly from multiple, sometimes grotesque shark attacks. So, extreme caution is advised for THE SHALLOWS.


(H, L, VVV, N, AA, M) Light humanist worldview overall where no God or higher power is acknowledged; three obscenities (including one “f” word) and two light exclamatory profanities, plus woman tries to eat a crab but vomits it back up; some very strong and strong violence includes video camera shows a shark attacking a person recording the video, implied death by shark attack as the viewers hear it, man's body is cut in half by shark, and his innards are shown on the beach, a dead whale carcass floats in the water with multiple shark bites, a woman is bitten in the leg by a shark, and a large bloody wound is shown, woman painfully closes her shark bite wound with sharp earrings, woman steps on corral that stings her in multiple places, woman stung by jellyfish, shark kills two men and lots of blood is shown in the water, shark tries to kill a woman multiple times and destroys a metal buoy in the water, fish is impaled, seagull's wing is injured by a shark; no sexual content; natural upper male nudity while wearing bathing suits, plus a woman wears a bikini; a drunk man is shown passed out on the beach, and another scene mentions recovering from a hangover; no smoking or drugs; and, a man steals a woman's belongings on the beach.

More Detail:

In THE SHALLOWS, a young woman gets trapped in the shallow waters off the Mexican coast after a shark attacks her. Any lover of the JAWS movies will find THE SHALLOWS scary and thrilling, but there is a lot of violence and blood. So, extreme caution is advised.

The movie opens with a young medical school dropout, Nancy, just arriving in Mexico. She eagerly shares photos of her recently deceased mother with her Mexican driver. A special photo depicts her mother on a beach in 1991 right after she learned she was pregnant with Nancy. Now an adult, Nancy is on her way to the same beach and surf spot off the coast of Mexico.

On arriving at her destination, Nancy finds the location just like the scene in her mother’s photos. Wasting no time, she hits the waves and meets two locals who surf there regularly. Although they speak broken English, they let Nancy know about rocks that appear a few hundred yards from the beach during low tide. They also warn her of the coral surrounding them that will sting like a jellyfish.

As the sun sets, they call it a day, leaving Nancy alone to catch the last few waves. Before doing so, Nancy calls her dad from the beach for a brief chat. Here, it’s revealed that Nancy quit medical school after her mother’s death from cancer. She felt that all of the work to become a doctor was not worth it if medical science couldn’t save her mother. Her dad begs her to return to medical school and fight through it like her mother did with her illness. Nancy dismisses his wishes but promises to return home soon since she’s been away for a few months on a whirlwind tour of several countries.

Nancy floats back out into the water and comes across a dead whale carcass where a bunch of seagulls are feeding. Feeling that something isn’t quite right, Nancy becomes concerned, but nonetheless continues with her surfing. She catches a wave, but is blown out of the water as a shark barrels towards her surfboard. As she tries to get away, the shark bites her thigh, causing a deep gash.

Happily, Nancy has some medical training and knows how to treat her wound so that she doesn’t lose a lot of blood. Using the rocks as a safe haven during low tide, there seems to be no escape from the shark, which continues to circle her. Keeping track of time with her watch, she knows she only has until high tide to figure out how to survive.

Anyone into JAWS, thrillers or horror movies will no doubt enjoy THE SHALLOWS. The plot may lack the sophistication of the first JAWS movie, but it makes up for this a gritty, primal, man (or woman) against nature story. The movie’s downfall is that it is fairly predictable, and comes across as very MacGyver-esque as Nancy miraculously seems to find all the tools she needs at just the right time to survive. There are also some touching, yet cheesy moments with family members and an injured seagull who’s marooned with her. The seagull itself takes on a supporting character as Nancy takes pity on it and uses her doctoring skills to fix his dislocated wing. As a result, she’s able to save the seagull’s life, and it provides inspiration for her to reconsider continuing with medical school.

The overall worldview is humanistic in that even though Nancy finds herself in many life-threatening situations, she never feels compelled to petition to a higher power for help. Instead, she relies on her own ingenuity.

Violence is the main concern for THE SHALLOWS. The foul language consists only of two “s” words and one “f” word, but there are multiple shark attacks, some of which are quite grotesque with lots of blood and some that are implied. Nancy struggles throughout the movie with a deep, bloody gash in her thigh. In one scene, a man is shown crawling onto the beach after being severed in half by a shark. That same man is also shown passed out drunk on the beach, then steals Nancy’s belongings.

All in all, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for THE SHALLOWS mostly because of its scary, occasionally graphic violence