Well, it’s Summer, and on warm Summer evenings hereabouts there’s nothing better to beat the heat than to slip off to our local cinema for a “Movie Nite/ Date Nite” mashup, just my sweetie and I and a blissfully cool air-conditioned theater for an evening of movie watchin’ fun. Last week we managed such a combination, and had the opportunity to choose from two different “Ocean themed” films. One… a big budget animated romp under the sea with the talking fishies…. or one with a tiny cast and deadly danger from one sinister insatiably flesh-devouring monster shark. Hehehehe…. guess which one this wee lady picked. 😉
Our synopsis? “Still reeling from the loss of her mother to cancer, medical student Nancy Adams travels to an idyllic secluded beach in Mexico for some much-needed solace. Abandoned by her friend and despite the danger of surfing alone, Nancy decides to soak up the sun and hit the waves anyways. Suddenly and without warning, a great white shark attacks, wounding her badly and forcing her to swim to a giant rock for safety. Left injured and alone and stranded 200 yards from shore, the frightened young woman must now fight for her life as the deadly predator circles her in its feeding ground. Now her desperate fight for survival is really on…”
Eeeeeehhhh!! I just love survival stories… and man-eating monster critters… and we get all that and a spunky heroine for our main character too!! How could this not be a great lil’ popcorn crunchin’ roller-coaster ride of guilty fun? I was soooooo ready for this one, even if my darling Carolyn seemed a lil’ less enthusiastic. Yep. We just had to pick this one…. and we could always “Find Dory” another time. 🙂
So was this a good choice for “Movie/Date Nite”? One way to know o’ Gentle Visitors… 😉
Little did I know when we entered that darkened theater that I wasn’t in for just another bit of bloody movie watching fun, but that I’d also learn something personal about my darling wife as well. Just when I thought I knew all of her darkest secrets….
So popcorn in hand we slipped into our seats and let the darkness enfold us in it’s coolness and our film got going right away and we were introduced to our film’s heroine Nancy Adams (played by Blake Lively) and her local guide Carlos (played by Óscar Jaenada), as they bumps and bounces their way through the jungles of Mexico looking for that isolated beach Nancy’s mother once visited when she was pregnant with Nancy, the beach she always claimed was the most perfect surfing in the world.
It’s an important pilgrimage for Nancy. Her mom was an amazing woman… expert surfer and fearless world traveler who seemed capable of anything. Until cancer took her away forever and left Nancy struggling to cope with her loss. So… as our story begins she’s left her medical school to try to find some inner peace, some closure, and some way to touch her mother’s spirit even if it’s to finally visit that one perfect place, her mother’s special secret place that she’d always heard about as she grew up.
She’s supposed to be sharing this with her BFF, but we never even meet her… seems she’s too darn hung over to want to take a bumpy jeep ride into the remote boondocks… not when she can just blow her friend off to hook up with some local Lothario she met the night before. Grrrr…. the one selfish person in this story Neko reeeeaaaly wants to see eaten by a shark and she never even makes an appearance….
Anyways… Nancy finds that beach…. and it’s every bit as beautiful and unspoiled as she always imagined. She unwinds, takes in some sun, and even meets a couple of nice hunky locals (played by Angelo José Lozano Corzo and José Manuel Trujillo Salas) to do some surfing with. Initially shy and mistrustful, she eventually realizes they are just a couple of good guys only out for the same relaxing fun she is and they have a great afternoon together… the film giving us some really nice well filmed gorgeous surfing scenes before the sun starts to set and the guys bid her farewell. Nancy takes a break, calls up her little sister Chloe (played by Sedona Legge) and it’s then we learn just how much her mother’s death has rocked Nancy’s world to it’s core. The surprise and suddenness of her vital amazing mother’s death from cancer has left Nancy reeling and even questioning whether she should abandon medical school just as she approaches her graduation. Chloe tries to perk her up, reminding her that she wants Nancy to teach her to surf just the way their mother taught Nancy, telling her that their mother was someone who would never give up, never surrender to grief, and never stop fighting no matter what. Not ready to give up her grief, Nancy ends the call and decides to catch one more wave by herself before heading back to her hotel. Big honking mistake….
After paddling out to catch that wave, Nancy notices a large whale carcass floating about twenty yards away and paddles over to investigate. The gigantic rotting carcass floats amid a slick of blood and whale oil, being picked apart by a flock of seagulls and stench that I can only imagine. She moves away, unaware of the ominous shadow now stealthy lurking in the water beneath her. Catching the next wave, she’s smashed off her board by the killer shark that has set it’s sights on killing anything in it’s territory. Pulled down by the surf, Nancy slams into the rocky bottom opening her head and filling the water with blood. Oooops….
As she groggily tries to regain her board our monster strikes, savagely biting her leg and dragging her under to certain death. The blood fills the water…. it’s confusing.. chaotic and horrible… it’s incredibly personal and realistic… and that’s when Carolyn freaked.
I suppose I should have figured it out already. I mean, Carolyn and I have known each other for over half our lives, but you have to understand just how good my lovely wife really is when it comes to hiding things behind her usual calm composed and altogether adult “face”. I’ve learned it’s something she unconsciously developed over the years… a mask she wears to be taken seriously by the world and to keep herself always feeling in control of things. So different from the way I am…. I just wear my feelings right out in the open for good or ill. Not that my Carolyn isn’t outgoing… she just likes to keep her personal feelings… well… personal. She only lets the few people reaaallly close to her ever see behind that mask to any great degree. And lil’ ol’ me? As long as we’ve been together, she’s found she has very few defenses to keep her hiding away that surprisingly fragile inner woman she really can be. But this one certainly caught me by surprise.
Anyways… at this point in our movie, my adorable wife let out a shriek and grabbed my arm strong enough to bruise me, coming right out of her seat and burying her face in my shoulder. Finishing the movie was… well… not gonna happen. So I hustled her out of there as fast as I could and after she got control of herself we went to have coffee across the street and I got to hear exactly why my usually unflappable wifey just went absolutely apeshit.
So. Way back when she was a little girl of 6 or so, it seems my darling had herself a nasty run-in with a neighbor’s doberman. One hot summer day… one little girl on a trike… one very old, very mean dog probably suffering from canine dementia. She got attacked… pulled off her bike, savagely mauled and bitten, and put in the hospital. Luckily her dad was in the driveway and able to beat that vicious thing off of her as quickly as he did. It left her terrified of dogs… all dogs… for a couple of years after that, and even after she finally grew up and mostly over it, apparently she still secretly harbored a dread fear of being eaten alive by something. I’ve seen her scar of course, four inches or so way up on her inner thigh, which today is just a pale zigzag patch of skin that never tans no matter how much sun it gets. She’d never really mentioned what had happened before.. and she’d even had a dog ( a tiny friendly little brown mutt named Farley who apparently was part of her “therapy” to reduce her anxiety around dogs) as a pet when I visited her home during college. But… like I say, she’s very closed mouthed about personal stuff. I had just never seen her react like that before… worse than any panic attack or nightmare I’d ever had or experienced.
It does explain why she always been less than happy with my occasional movie choice over the years featuring killer animals. Now that I think about it, those always were the movies that had her taking inordinate numbers of trips out of the room to the kitchen or the bathroom while they were on…. I’d always figured she just didn’t like the film. Apparently this one just caught her off guard and was just too darn real for her to handle. Stupid, stupid me… I felt terrible about it. I mean… Carolyn’s always indulging me and my admittedly gory movie tastes…. and I usually let her.
Well… after having a long talk about Carolyn being honest and feeling good about telling lil’ ol’ me when she’s not interested in watching one of the grisly movies that make crazy lil’ me as happy as a clam, we headed home and I promised I’d share such movie fare with Sam in future instead of inflicting them on her. That and I promised next time out she could definitely pick our film.
Now…. I did actually get to see the rest of this one… a couple days later for a matinee before I headed into work so here’s the rest of my “Reviewus Interuptus”. Let’s see…. Oh yeah. The big shark attack. Yep, this is definitely one nasty bit of business. In reality, our heroine should be a goner… but this is fiction so Miss Lively manages to smack the shark in the head and gets loose, crawling to safety atop that stinking whale carcass before our angry monster rams it from below forcing her to make a hasty swim to a nearby exposed rock barely in the nick of time. Her wound? OMG…. it’s unbelievably nasty. Probably a good thing I’d hauled Carolyn outta there before she saw it last time. It’s deep, bloody and requires our heroine to rig a tourniquet out of her wetsuit to keep from just plain bleeding out. Heck… how she doesn’t just die from shock is a miracle in itself.
Now were into the main part of our tale. Nancy is stranded on this rock… badly hurt… surrounded by shallow water with our shark swimming around her in constant readiness to finish her off if she’s forced into the water again. Oh…. and our little rock? It’s a tidal island that will disappear as soon as high tide happens. Awwww crap.
It’s survival time… and our heroine has to carry the film from this point on, suturing her wound with her mother’s necklace and her earrings and trying to figure out how to escape to shore before becoming shark food. The story goes pretty much as you’d expect…. lots of tense conversations with herself…. well… and the wounded seagull who shares her rocky haven. You keep expecting people to show up… and they do, like a drunken guy who tries to steal her rucksack, phone, and surfboard. Problem is, that nasty ol’ shark is one sneaky bastard and keeps eating all her would-be rescuers as they appear in our story. Even those friendly surfer dudes who come back next day only to get chomped on before she can warn them. Eventually she finds that only she can save herself by finding that inner strength her mother had to do what seems impossible.
With high tide making her position untenable, Nancy realizes her only chance to survive is not to try to make the beach in an impossible swim with her leg, but to make an equally dangerous swim for a nearby nautical buoy instead. We get a great little chase scene through a swarm of stinging jellyfish that lets her reach safety barely ahead of the shark. It’s a more secure place than her sinking rock, but the wound in her leg has begun to go septic and dehydration and exposure are slowly pushing her beyond human endurance. It’s only a matter of time before she dies…. or gets angry enough to take the fight to her enemy on his terms.
Yeah… yeah…. now it’s definitely a given that our plucky heroine is gonna beat the monster shark. It’s just that kinda movie. How does that all happen? Neko’s not gonna ruin it for you. Let’s just say that eventually her local guide Carlos is gonna show up after her final duel with the crazy shark just in the nick of time to get our girl to medical help so that we’ll get our perquisite upbeat ending a year later when Dr. Nancy sporting her scars like a badge of honor and lil’ sister Chloe are going surfing together back home in Galveston, Texas just the way she learned from her mother all those years ago.
Yep. It ended up being a pretty darn serviceable lil’ shark movie. Lots of action, plenty of suspense, a whole lot of nasty bloody action all put together in a tight little hour and a half. Miss Lively certainly looks the part as our surfing heroine, appearing comfortable in both the surfing and action scenes, and making you root for her to pull off the impossible and somehow come out on top despite the odds. She carries the movie pretty well too, considering it’s mostly a one character story with only 4 or five other characters in it at all. The plot plays all the expected notes and sticks to a tried and true story-line. Don’t expect it to be more than that and you ought to enjoy it as much as I did.
Even if it scared the shit of of my darling wife, I found it a nice little suspenseful thriller, and give it a well deserved 4 “Meows” out of 5. If it comes to parts ’round you, you could do worse than give it a peek.
Yep… I know I veered a bit to the “personal” with this Review, but I’ve always found cinema to be something that my experience of has to be shaped by my own life, so even if I went off in a tangent, that’s kinda how movies are for me. Life and fiction all squooshed together. I hope to be a wee less rambling next time out. Promise… 😉
Trailer? Yep… Neko’s got ya covered. 🙂