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Shallow Water (2017) review

A Look at the Past and the Future of Creature films EXT JUNGLE DAY We coast over a beautiful waterfall.  A strong but terrified woman, out of breath and soaking wet due to a tropical storm, is running from something. Then we hear it.  An animalistic cry. That is how Sandy Collora's short film, Shallow Water, opens.  Lisa Roumain plays the unnamed last girl.  What is most interesting about this short film, is that there could have been an entire two hour film proceeding before these series of events.  But this chase is amazing. Lisa Roumain carries the fear and…

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A Look at the Past and the Future of Creature films

EXT JUNGLE DAY
We coast over a beautiful waterfall.  A strong but terrified woman, out of breath and soaking wet due to a tropical storm, is running from something.
Then we hear it.  An animalistic cry.

That is how Sandy Collora’s short film, Shallow Water, opens.  Lisa Roumain plays the unnamed last girl.  What is most interesting about this short film, is that there could have been an entire two hour film proceeding before these series of events.  But this chase is amazing.

Lisa Roumain carries the fear and horror on her face with each ghastly discovery, including some of the people who got way too close to the creature. Collora has an eye for atmosphere, and it is certainly not in short supply here.  We have no idea where this takes place, or if she even speaks English.  No dialogue is required, as the chase and tension recall some of the scarier moments of Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and John McTiernan’s Predator (1987). It is certainly no coincidence that Collora has worked on high profile films such as Predator 2 (1990), The Crow (1994) and Men in Black (1997) to name a few.  Carrying an artistic eye that is on par with Ridley Scott, who also storyboards his films.

But Mr. Collora doesn’t stop there.  He illustrates concepts on paper, then sculpts and creates maquettes which are proofs of concept.  He builds his worlds from the ground up.  This vision, is truly an independent spirit. No compromises.
Sandy Collora directed commercials, after being a part of Stan Winston’s creature shop in the late 1980’s.  He tutored under Henry Alvarez, who was sculptor the amazing suit for Robocop (1987) and worked with Rob Bottin. Alvarez collaborated with Collora on one of his signature short films.  Batman Dead End (2003) in which a comic book accurate Batman faces off with The Joker and some fantastic movie monsters. The film is a milestone, and although unofficial, it is regarded by many as the best Batman on screen.  Collora followed up and did Hunter Prey (2010), a feature film that is equal parts Heavy Metal and Star Wars.

Coming full circle, Collora attempted to make a feature version of Shallow Water and had an ambitious goal to crowdfund it.  It didn’t happen, but he raised some eyebrows and got some more fans.   Let me be clear though. The amount he attempted to raise was not even the advertising budget for a Hollywood Studio picture.  What he does so well, is get a lot of bang for the buck.  Most importantly, this twenty minute chase featuring a creature and fantastic actress who has worked with James Cameron on Avatar (2009) is now a fantastic proof of concept.

Shallow Water is a chapter in a series of shorts Mr. Collora has prepared to release as a feature.  He has so many ideas and concepts fleshed out on paper and in sculpture, that he could easily work for the next twenty years fleshing out these concepts, as well as pushing aside some that are elusive, not unlike Stanley Kubrick, who abandoned a Napoleon film, among others.

The short film works as a stand alone piece, but it would be interesting to see what will happen when Mr Collora gets the means to make another feature.  He is one of the most misunderstood artists of his generation. But over time, he has humbled and is severely blessed with good friends and an outlet for his talent.

But that’s fine.  Because the promise and potential in this one individual could be unstoppable with an army behind him.

Prepare for War, Hollywood.

Check your local listings and venues for screenings.