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The Shallows is a surprisingly effective thriller, benefiting from its contained environment and minimal run time. Blake Lively proves herself as an action star, and while there are very few shocks in the story, the film is aware enough and maximizes the premise. Yes, it’s very silly at points, and it’s surely predictable, but the film is well made enough that its compelling throughout.

Nancy (Blake Lively) is trying to escape a painful experience at home by visiting a special beach of the coast of Mexico where her mother visited. When a shark attacks a group of surfers, Nancy is stranded in the middle of the Ocean with the impending threat of death and only the will to survive.The simple survival premise allows for a personal and raw performance from Blake Lively, who gives the film much of its strength and delivers an emotional punch to the action.

There’s not much to be discussed regarding the story, but Director Jaume Collett-Serra gives a surprising amount of grittiness and brutality to the thin story. Is it particularly original or inventive? No, but it’s well done, a smart, scary little thriller. Grade: B