The Shallows is probably the best killer shark flick since Jaws, thanks in part to an excellent performance by Blake Lively. But she isn’t the real star of the movie…
I don’t want to say anything bad about Blake Lively. Perhaps the reason The Shallows worked so well was because of how believable Lively made the horrifying situation feel. I also loved that her character was named Nancy, simply because I’m a huge fan of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
But although it hardly shows anyone else in the entire movie, Lively’s Nancy is still not the greatest character.
That would be Nancy’s closest friend in the movie— an injured seagull she affectionately named Steven. Stranded on an island rock with hardly any hope of survival, the bird that wouldn’t leave her side quickly became her best pal, sort of like Tom Hanks falling for a volleyball in Castaway. There wasn’t much he could do to help— but he really helped Nancy feel that she wasn’t entirely in this alone.
I couldn’t help but wonder why Steven wouldn’t just fly away, until it was made clear that he had an injury. In perhaps the only tender moment in the film, Nancy assists him with the injury and sends him on his way. We last see Steven floating away on a broken surfboard with a fixed wing, presumably flapping his way to safety thanks to Nancy’s help.Supporting actress Blake Lively posing with lead actor Steven Seagull (Instagram)
While watching The Shallows, I found myself rooting for the bird to survive just as much as Nancy, if not more so. Most of the suspense came from the fear that the shark would jump out of the water to swallow poor Steven at any moment. Considering how quickly every other human character became shark bait, I couldn’t be more ecstatic about his survival.
While every interaction with Steven was thoroughly entertaining, the brightest spot was the moment when Nancy realizes how hungry she is, with nothing but a recently smashed baby crab to sink her teeth into. Steven seems to give her a look that asks, “You’re not thinking about eating that, are you?” only to virtually laugh at her when she has to puke it up.
Because I can’t even think of any other good examples, I’m confident in calling Steven Seagull the greatest bird in the history of horror movies. I’m not sure if there’s any logical way to do The Shallows 2— but somebody needs to think of something, just to get that damn bird back on the big screen.