The Shallows


Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo, Joseph Sallas, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Pablo Calva, Diego Espejel,
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A-

Struggling med student Nancy goes on a surf trip to Mexico to find a beach her mother also surfed on. While there, she surfs a few waves with some locals, but wanting to catch more waves, stays after they leave for the day. After swimming further out to open water, she stumbles upon a shark feeding off a whale carcass and finds herself being targeted by it. After tending to her injuries, Nancy finds herself running out of time as she desperately tries to alert anyone she can to her presence, and also keep them from being attacked by the increasingly aggressive shark stalking her.

As far as ticking-clock thrillers go, this is one of the better ones made in recent years. The plot is well-paced, and Blake Lively, who is on screen for pretty much the entire movie, does well with the material. Shark attack movies are usually a dime a dozen, so finding one that stands out is a rare occurrence. The limited number of people in danger likely helps with this, as the survival of the main character is what makes the movie one of either tragic loss or triumphant survival. It’s also not entirely outside possibility that a shark would target a single wounded person who encroached on their territory, and ultimately the most unrealistic plot point is that Nancy doesn’t lose her leg.

The special effects are fairly well done, with the shark looking mostly realistic, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Action/thriller fans should enjoy this movie, though those with a fear of sharks probably won’t. With a decent script and real consequences, this is one of the better shark attack movies that have been made somewhat recently, and it’s even worth spending the money on a purchase for future watching, as it seems like a good movie to rewatch when you’re bored.

The Shallows is not available free to stream at the moment, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always on the lookout for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Escape Room


Directed By: Adam Robitel
Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, Nick Dodani,
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A-

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, student Zoey, grocery store stocker Ben, and stockbroker Jason are mysteriously presented with a gift of a black puzzle box from someone they know. After solving the puzzle, they find an invitation to an escape room challenge, which holds a prize of $10,000 to anyone who can escape it. After their arrival at the company site for the room, they meet three others who also received the puzzle boxes, war vet Amanda, trucker Mike, and gaming enthusiast Danny. When the escape room mechanisms are triggered, they group quickly learn that the game isn’t what they first thought, and they all fight to stay alive against a system designed to kill them.

This movie was surprisingly good. I was entirely unaware of the escape room phenomenon before seeing this, so the concept seemed to be a fairly original take on a locked room mystery. Though only three of the characters get proper introductions before the action starts, they, for the most part, get some decent background instead of just being used as blank cannon fodder to increase tensions. The actors all do well with their characters, and they all have a fair amount of chemistry with each other. The puzzles themselves are all interesting, and aren’t obvious about the solutions or the potential dangers.

The special effects are fairly well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Fans of the horror/thriller genre should enjoy this movie. While there’s very little gore, it’s actually a pretty good thriller, and while it does open with a bit of a spoiler as to who survives, there are a few decent twists along the way. Anyone wanting to watch this shouldn’t be disappointed if they have to spend money on a rental, and it’s something that can be viewed multiple times without getting too boring.

Escape Room is currently only available free to stream if you have Starz, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.