Shark Night 3D
2011, 90mins, 15
Director: David R. Ellis
Writer (s): Will Hayes, Jesse Studenberg
Cast includes: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Alyssa Diaz, Joel David Moore, Chris Carmack
UK Release Date: 30th September 2011
Released to virtually no fanfare and uninspiring box-office at the tail-end of last summer, “Shark Night 3D” is the sort of irredeemably useless claptrap that gives exploitation film-making a bad name. Ludicrous plotting can be fun, but when combined with static direction, weak acting and a feeble PG-13 rating, it’s unlikely to work in the guise of a horror show. Sharks are by definition scary onscreen monsters, yet director David R. Ellis (the man behind 2006’s affectionately recalled “Snakes on a Plane”) can’t wring one iota of terror out of them, not even a smidgen. The bland Hollister cast don’t add much to proceedings either, and the screenplay is a stinker of the sort rarely encountered. I saw the film in traditional 2D (it’s now available on Blu-Ray/DVD) so can’t comment on the 3D sheen that accompanied the flick in theatres. By all accounts it wasn’t great, and given how shoddily every other fact of this bunkum is, I see no reason to disbelieve such a consensus.
With exams finished, college buddies Nick (Dustin Milligan), Malik (Sinqua Walls), Maya (Alyssa Diaz) Gordon (Joel David Moore) and Beth (Katherine McPhee) head to Sara’s (Sara Paxton) remote Louisiana holiday home, isolated on an island amidst the swampy lakes. On arrival the beer and water sports commence, chilled out partying the name of the game. Whilst wakeboarding, Malik is relieved of a limb, his attacker a surprisingly sizeable shark. The kids are thrown into a frenzy, plotting to get Malik assistance before it’s too late. To the rescue comes a pair of suspicious locals, Dennis (Chris Carmack) and Red (Joshua Leonard). It doesn’t take long for their cruel motivations to surface, unveiling a strategy that starts with a variety of exotic and deadly sharks and ending with a selection of maimed college victims.
Alex Aja’s “Piranha 3D” stills looms large when it comes to fishy frolicking on the big-screen, that picture a veritable cornucopia of blood, boobs, quirk, satire and trashy fun. These are the elements that “Shark Night 3D” should have incorporated into its flimsy narrative, but sadly the picture’s PG-13 rating and off-form director aren’t up to the task. There’s virtually no gore on display and you’ll get nothing more than gratuitous bikini shots here, the film fluffing its only hope of salvation without a care in the world. Well that’s not entirely accurate. Genuine frights would have been appreciated, but those aren’t forthcoming either, limp jump-cuts and screaming damsels about the most “Shark Night 3D” can cook up. It’s pathetic.
The screenplay gives no credence to character development, leaving the actors with nothing to work with. They’re badly serviced by this script and give boring turns as a consequence, but not everyone in the cast looks to be without potential. Joel David Moore is as annoying as ever, but Sara Paxton, Milligan and Sinqua Walls at least seem to possess some inherent charisma. As the hicks with a dorsal shaped itch, both Carmack and Leonard are pretty sucky. The former is as dull a bad guy as I’ve encountered for some time and his reasons for acting in such a dastardly fashion are in equal parts convoluted and unbelievable. Leonard just slathers on the hillbilly stereotypes recklessly. He looks to be having a good time, but his enjoyment doesn’t crossover to the audience. Finally capable TV stalwart Donal Logue (think “The Tao of Steve” and “Max Payne” for his movie work) hams it up as a bumbling sheriff. He’s a credible actor, so I hope he got handsomely paid for this embarrassing addition to his CV.
The CGI is dubious at best, the film’s finale an underdressed anti-climax. There is one moment of B-movie glee to derive from this idiotic mush, a scene in which a wounded member of the survivors attempts to fight a hammerhead shark with a spear. It’s silly and hardly tense, but it at least shows a softness of touch and digestible absurdity that the rest of the picture lacks. Basically it aims for a laugh and gets it, a rarity in this otherwise rubbishy confection.
I had modest hopes for “Shark Night 3D”, but it proved incapable of meeting them. David R. Ellis has always been a hit and miss film-maker, this atrocity going squarely in the latter column. Tasteless and amateurishly assembled, “Shark Night 3D” lacks thrills or guts - both of the visceral and courageous kind. Don’t make the mistake of revisiting it like I did, just let Ellis’s crappy shocker die the death it so obviously deserves in bargain bins everywhere.
A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2012