Shape of Water Review


Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Written by: Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor

Director of Photography: Dan Laustsen (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Proud Mary, Silent Hill, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Nightwatch, Mimic, John Wick 2,

Run Time: 2hrs 3min

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Drama, Thriller

Have you ever wondered, “What if ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon’ found the girl of his dreams and fell in love?” And, “How would he communicate with his new love interest?” You’re in luck. ‘The Shape of Water’ answers these and other questions for you in a realistic fantasy tale. Then you go onto ask yourself, “Who out there could possibly play this monster with such grace and physical presence?” Doug Jones is your guy. His unmistakable sleek, wiry frame, and fluid motions give him away regardless of what makeup or costume he’s wearing (‘Hellboy’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’).

Set against the Cold War of 1960’s Baltimore, a mysterious Amphibious Man is brought into a secretive government research facility, for some unknown reason. Elsa (Sally Hawkins) and Zelda (Octavia Butler) are a pair of average, run of the mill cleaning ladies responsible to sweep, mop, dust, and during the night shift. One particular night their lives are changed.

Elsa plays the central role as the mute cleaning woman who lives alone. Every night, before leaving for her shift, she takes food to and checks in on her artistic neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), who is her only friend outside of work. Her dreams are filled with her floating through an apartment filled with water foreshadowing some form of freedom she’s desperate for.

Water imagery plays heavily and takes a prominent role throughout the movie. From the set pieces of Elsa’s apartment, this had the look and feel of a damp, wet, and moldy space. To the research facility the super glossy hallway floors reflect light with a shimmer of a river.

Giles is the older gentle neighbor who is kindly looked after by Elsa. He’s the epitome of the starving artist and struggles to get his work accepted.

Zelda is Elsa’s de facto mouthpiece and interpreter to the outside world. As they work, night after night, Zelda complains to Elsa about her marriage, Brewster (Martin Roach), and is quick to set other straight, creating unnecessary messes for them to clean.

What good is a thriller/caper without an inside man. This role is Dr. Hoffstetler, played by Michael Stuhlbarg. He plays the beleaguered and belittled scientist responsible for researching The Creature.

They all come together to form the perfect plan to break The Creature out of the facility and setting him free to the open water. There is one problem, Richard Strickland.

Strickland (Michael Shannon) plays the newly injected head of security to watch after The Creature. He’s a cutout of Bull Connor; brash, hyper masculine, and mission driven man. To round out his outfit, he even carries a black cattle prod that sees plenty of action. Thankfully, the movie shows his family life and although he’s an overt sexist/racist, he’s a good husband and father.


Elsa’s use of American Sign Language was authentic and true to its source.

The use of water imagery, both actual and perceived was prevalent throughout the movie

Set design felt authentically 1960’s

Michael Shannon plays a decent antagonist.


Even after it’s been made known this creature is being held at the facility, Elsa still has unrestricted access to the Creature and his holding tank.

In the third act when Strickland forces his way into Zelda’s house, and basically punks Brewster into standing down was bullshit.

Just because Elsa was mute why did she feel she needed companionship and couldn’t find it in human form?


Overall, the movie was shot beautifully, immersing you back into the 1960, with a fantasy ending from GDT that was somewhat predictable, but what we have been come to expect.


Written By our new Staff writer Jerrell Young

@Jbugg33 on twitter