FILM INFO: A group of adventurers arrive at a fabled fishing spot in Mexico only to realize that they are being hunted by a creature that lurks in the dark, shallow waters and that help will not be arriving any time soon.
Hidden deep within any true cinephile is a fondness of old school movies and the ever important use of practical effects. Both of these things were hinted at when looking up "Shallow Water." Long before hitting that play button, writer and director Sandy Collora's film already contained great moments in my heart, but when those moments came, I knew I'd discovered not an amazing short film, but one that fell somewhere between a nostalgic trip and a guilty pleasure. The moment came when I realized none of the scenes in the plot description, were actually shown onscreen. It was like stepping into a film halfway through, during a crazy action sequence. I kept waiting for a graphic to appear reading: Two days earlier. Or even: 8 hours earlier. The graphic never came. Unless you read the description of the film itself, you'll have no clue at just what the hell is happening. "Shallow Water" attempts to emulate the off-the-wall creature features of the pre-nineties era, with some wildly mixed results. The use of practical effects, especially the "monster" itself, was simply awesome for me and the film did, in fact, have some excellent yester-year moments. Just not enough to really drive the point home. Was it a great film in my eyes? Maybe not a great one, but a pretty darn cool one. I can't deny the joy I felt when watching our leading lady, run for her life from a creature straight out of a classic B-Horror film. I can't deny the nostalgic feeling I had when waiting to finally see the creature in all it's glory. I also can't deny my appreciation when I figured out that our leading lady wasn't the cliche dolt of a woman, although that was another place where "Shallow Water" strayed from it's roots. All these things make this sound like it should have been an outstanding production; and it probably should have been. However, that half a movie feeling, as well as a few other factors I'll write about below, simply prevented that from happening. Was this a good film? Hell yes! Sandy Collora has pieced together a great work of fiction. One that is just as entertaining as the actual creature costume itself. There's plenty to fall in love with, even if you're not a fan of yesterday's films. For what it is, "Shallow Water" easily hits it's mark and is a blast to watch. There really is no question about that. Visually, this is a sharp looking movie. Cinematography and post production work were all top-notch, and it really shows right from the first frame. As our leading lady, Lisa Roumain manages to pull off an excellent performance, even though she doesn't really say anything. You can see her fear, frustration, and even anger through-out the entire movie. An excellent performance by any standards. The audio is actually what brings all the nineties style to the production, save the creature itself. Some excellent choices, such as the backing score abruptly stopping when a door is closed, instantly brought me back a few decades. Again, very well done. So what's left to discuss? For starters, the slightly long-ish feel of the film. "Shallow Water" could have really used a slight trimming down. The traveling scenes, from here to there, began feeling really repetitive. The sense of action started so strongly, and it was great! Slowly however, through countless scenes of our hero simply walking or running, the movie madness completely lost it's effect. As this film is essentially one big action scene, why not keep it as one? The story elements you can glean from the movie doesn't require a full quarter, or more, of the film to contain the exact same scene at a slightly different location. Trim it up and make what's left that much stronger. Mixed in with the extended running sequences were numerous "first-person" cuts. These were awesome... at first. After a while, for me anyway, the uncountable first person edits became so cumbersome to watch, they began taking me right out of the film. Again we're back to the "less is more" ideal. "Shallow Water" is never, by any means, a below average... or even average short film. Some excellent work easily pushed this movie well above that point on the scale. It was a delight to see so much work put into not only creating a creature feature, but one that has a highly nostalgic feel to it; for those of us who remember. Nostalgia is not all it has however. This film holds enough cards to be easily loved by the younger viewer as well. For all it's creature horror, it's a fun ride. I, personally, loved all the little details and the overall idea. All I can say is this: What a trip indeed. -MC