Going into a movie like The Shallows, there are a few things you probably expect: some big scares; a nasty, climatic fight; and the defeat of at least one central character, whether it's the hero of the story or the villain he or she is fighting against. Thankfully, The Shallows delivers on all fronts. The new movie is a fun-filled, action-packed thriller that pits an A-list actor against a terrifying Great White shark, balancing its many goosebump-causing scares with plenty of quieter, introspective moments. Yet let's be real: the only thing most people are thinking as they walk into their theaters is, does Blake Lively die in The Shallows ? Or does she actually manage to fight off the shark, and live to surf another day?
Well, only read on if you want major spoilers from the new movie. In The Shallows , Lively's character, Nancy, does survive, but it's only after a vicious fight with a shark that nearly kills her. About a third of the way through the film, Nancy surfs a bit too far out in the water and encounters a dead, half-eaten whale, which, she soon finds out, turns out to be the shark's feeding ground. She gets bitten, and although she manages to swim to (relative) safety on a rock, her injuries are pretty severe; her leg is bleeding profusely, and she has to fashion a tourniquet around it in order to stop her body from losing too much blood. She stays on the rock, exhausted, sunburnt, and dehydrated, for many hours, as there's no one in sight to save her. The one time a person does arrive on the beach, he's a drunk man who attempts to steal Nancy's belongings before getting attacked by the shark himself.
So a traumatized Nancy continues to wait it out, stalking the shark's movements to get an idea of where he travels and when. She wants desperately to grab her surfboard, which rests in the water too far for her to reach without leaving the rock and risking her life, and return to the beach, but the shark's constant presence forbids this from happening. When two surfers Nancy met the previous day arrive at the beach she gets their attention, but they don't believe that a shark could be present until, sadly, they get attacked and killed themselves.
At this point, Nancy is terrified, gravely injured, and desperate for help, but she also realizes that she has to fight, if she wants any chance of survival. She quickly moves to a nearby buoy and stays there until the shark begins to bite at it, causing it to topple over. Soon, it's truly a battle between the two of them, and Nancy comes up with a plan to lead the shark to the bottom of the chain linking the buoy to the ocean floor. She swims as quickly as she can to the bottom, with the shark right behind her and catching up fast, and, at the very last second, moves away so that the shark is killed by slamming headfirst into the chain.
It's an exciting, heart-pounding scene, a fitting conclusion to the battle. The movie doesn't end there — Nancy is found unconscious near the beach by a child and his father, and a "one year later" epilogue makes it clear that she ends up healed, happy, and a surfer once again. But I guarantee that when you leave the theater, you'll be thinking not of the real finale, but of that final, epic scene of Nancy vs. shark.
Images: Columbia Pictures; Giphy